A “sadistic” murderer who throttled and cut the throat of a female work colleague he had been dating for less than a month would likely have killed again, detectives have said.
“Ruthless” Ross McCullam, who had admitted manslaughter before his trial, was unanimously convicted of the “merciless” murder of intelligent and popular HR worker Megan Newborough, at Leicester Crown Court on Monday.
McCullam had alleged he acted only after a loss of control which she had inadvertently triggered during oral sex.
Porn-obsessed McCullam sought to blame Ms Newborough, claiming he went into a “blind rage” set off by undiagnosed PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) caused by unreported childhood sexual abuse.
But the claim was only the start of a web of lies he told, with jurors hearing how Ms Newborough had told her parents she was driving to McCullam’s house to go for a walk and would not be long.
Speaking after the conviction, Detective Inspector Jenni Heggs, of the East Midlands Special Operations Unit, described McCullam as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and believed he would have “gone on to kill again”.
She said: “I think he has enjoyed it and been sexually aroused by it, by what he’s done. That’s a dangerous mix.”
Not content with strangling the 23-year-old – McCullam then used a carving knife to cut her throat “in a sawing motion”, John Cammegh KC, prosecuting, told jurors.
McCullam claimed he only used a knife because he was scared people – including Ms Newborough – might be “cross” and “angry” at him for having throttled her.
But jurors heard how the young woman had “left clues” to the truth by the defensive wounds and marks on her body inflicted at McCullam’s parents’ home, where he struck.
There were signs Ms Newborough had fought desperately to fend off McCullam in the lounge.
“She was covered in injuries, from her shin to the crown of her head,” said Mr Cammegh.
Her FitBit had also been ripped off in the attack, and was later recovered underneath a nearby television.
Mr Cammegh branded McCullam to jurors as a “sadistic killer” who had acted with “ruthless” intent.
“When it comes to women – this is a very dangerous man,” he said.
The jury agreed, convicting the former kitchen assistant in just an hour-and-a-half on Monday.
McCullam, who was stood in the court dock to hear the jury, nodded twice as the verdict was read by the foreman.
Ms Newborough’s mother, father and sister, who had had to sit through a six-week trial hearing harrowing and upsetting evidence – much of it for the first time, cried and hugged one another at the back of court as the verdict was returned.
Footage captured on her parents’ Ring doorbell camera showed the last time she was seen alive, as she walked to her car.
After the killing, he attempted to clean up blood in the lounge, then put her body headfirst into the footwell of her vehicle.
Before driving off, McCullam – who had no driving licence – also sent a text message, asking if she had made it home safe, including one reading “You are amazing”, along with kisses and a smiling emoji.
McCullam, who lived in virtual squalor in his litter-strewn bedroom, then drove Ms Newborough’s body to a country lane – throwing out her phone on the way – where he callously dumped her remains near Woodhouse Eaves, Leicestershire.
He then sent text messages asking if she had made it home safe.
McCullam had also conducted online searches linked to serial killer Levi Bellfield, Soham killer Ian Huntley and Yorkshire ripper Peter Sutcliffe.
The 30-year-old, of Coalville, Leicestershire, was obsessed with pornography and sexual imagery, and masturbated for 17 minutes to explicit only hours after the killing, then laughed in front of the jury about it, telling them: “It relieved the stress… I know it looks bad.”
McCullam claimed the murderous attack was triggered because he suffered PTSD, having been a victim of childhood sexual abuse.
But the prosecution said those claims were a “pack of lies” McCullam used to cover up for his violent attack.
Instead, the Crown alleged, McCullam murdered Ms Newborough because of his anger at being sexually impotent immediately prior to the attack, and on an earlier occasion the weekend before.
Egotistical McCullam was eventually undone by the changing accounts he gave police in interview, and later in the court witness box.
On remand, McCullam also bragged to a cellmate about using the knife, and suggested he would use his mental health as a “tool” at trial.
In another incident, he was overheard on a prison landing by a guard laughing as he told other inmates “If you carry on like this, you’ll end up like Megan”.
Another prison guard also heard him joking openly with other inmates about the killing, telling fellow inmates “if I had gone a bit further I’d have taken her head off”.
In a chilling postscript to his crime, McCullam – in a 30-second voice message sent to Ms Newborough’s phone, knowing she was dead – said: “I had a fun time earlier.”
McCullam will be sentenced on Friday.