Jury considering verdict in Rugby murder trial

Shana Cover
Shana Cover

A jury has begun to consider its verdict in the case of a Rugby man accused of killing his estranged wife by almost severing her neck in a brutal knife attack in her own flat.

Owen Williams, 50, of Grizedale, Brownsover, Rugby, has pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to murdering 34-year-old Shana Cover in August last year.

And on the day the trial entered its sixth week, the jury of seven women and five men retired to begin their deliberations – with just over an hour before the court adjourned for the day.

During the trial they heard it is believed Ms Cover, who worked at Rugby’s Hospital of St Cross and was also doing a degree at Coventry University, was killed on August 14.

She had been at her home to sign for a parcel at just after 3pm, and her last phone call that day ended at 5.34pm.

“The prosecution case is that within minutes of that she was dead. Her attacker had almost completely severed her head from her body,” prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith has told the jury.

After finishing work as a chef at the Bell and Barge Harvester in Leicester Road at around 3pm that day, Williams had phoned his estranged wife before driving into Rugby town centre.

CCTV cameras showed him visiting various shops before returning to his car at 4.40pm and driving along a route covered by a large number of cameras.

But after his car had been picked up by a camera close to the junction with Murray Road, it was not captured by another camera in Murray Road until an hour and nine minutes later.

It is alleged that in that time Williams had driven to Morton Gardens where he killed Ms Cover by cutting her throat with such ferocity that her head was almost severed from her body.

The jury has heard that whoever killed her would have been covered in blood, and there was evidence the killer used the shower in the flat before leaving.

Her body, slumped against the sofa in the living room, was not found until a week later after the alarm was raised by people who had been trying to get in touch with her.

Following Williams’s arrest, the police found a knife with a 25cm blade in an oil drum in his garage, and also seized his boots from the staff area of the Bell and Barge.

Forensic scientist Christopher Lloyd said there were traces of blood on the knife which matched Ms Cover’s DNA profile.

“The findings are what I would expect if the knife had been used to cause the injuries and had subsequently been washed and wiped.”

There was also dilute blood on the boots, and he said: “Whether it’s dilute blood transferred to the tongue, or whether it’s neat blood with an attempt to wash it off, I don’t know.”

Mr Lloyd added: “In my opinion the wearer of these boots has been close to a source of airborne blood from Shana Cover. It would have been very close.”

He also examined a card air freshener which had been hanging from the gear stick in Williams’s BMW, and found quite heavy contact bloodstaining which matched Shana’s profile.

Mr Grieves-Smith has suggested that got there from the killer’s bloodstained clothing as he drove from the scene.

Williams had phoned his estranged wife a number of times prior to August 14, with the last call being made at 3.22pm on the afternoon of her death – but the calls and texts then stopped.

Cell site analysis showed Ms Cover’s phones had remained in the flat for another three days, and Mr Grieves-Smith said: “We suggest they were taken because they contained information which would identify the killer.”

And he pointed out that after being taken one of them had connected with a mast which covers Grizedale.

But Williams, who said he knew nothing of the knife found in his garage, denies being responsible for her murder.

Questioned by his barrister Michael Duck QC, he said his mother had died in Jamaica on his birthday in July last year, but he had been unable to attend her funeral.

Of the ‘missing hour’ during his journey home from the town centre, he said he pulled up after turning into Murray Road.

“I stopped because I was in a state frame of mind at the time because I didn’t get a chance to go to my mother’s funeral, which became a pressure on me that I didn’t get a chance as the eldest son to see her one last time.

“I was sent pictures of the funeral on the Sunday. I was crying; I just felt quite emotional.”

Asked whether he could say how long he sat there before continuing home, Williams replied: “No, I wasn’t concentrating on the time at the moment.”

The trial will resume with the jury continuing to consider its verdict.