A Northern Ireland double murderer who has been told he will never be released from prison was “always troubled and in trouble” in his youth, a former Greenisland neighbour has said.
William McFall, 51, was sentenced in Newcastle Crown Court on Wednesday for his part in the brutal rape and murder of 28-year-old Vietnamese woman Quyen Ngoc Mguyen last August.
He and accomplice Stephen Unwin, 42, lured the 5ft tall, seven-stone woman to Unwin’s home before subjecting her to a four-hour ordeal of torture and rape.
They then cooked and ate a curry before taking her – understood to be still alive – to a remote spot and burning her in her own car.
In 1996 McFall was sentenced to life for killing 86-year-old widow Martha Gilmore with a hammer while he burgled her Greenisland home. He went to prison in England and was released on licence in 2010.
Alliance MLA Stuart Dickson was neighbours with McFall at that time of the Greenisland murder.
“He was my neighbour on Station Road about 30 years ago,” he said. “He was in his late teens and early 20s at that time and was troubled and always in trouble.
“I knew he was someone to be avoided and to be incredibly aware of.”
Mr Dickson knew McFall’s first victim and said Mrs Gilmore’s murder caused “incredible shock”.
“If he had remained in prison in Northern Ireland there is a question as to whether he would have got out of prison sooner or later than he did. Questions need to be asked.”
Mr Dickson added: “This a person who is fundamentally flawed.
“I am absolutely certain Mrs Gilmore would have known him to see and would have recognised him in her house that night he killed her. It must have been incredibly fearful for that woman.
“There was a lot of shock that he ended up in prison in England and that he was released again.
“When I heard the news that he had killed again I was shocked, but sadly not surprised.”
Another man who met McFall during his youth in Greenisland said he did not recognise him in 2018.
In his youth McFall did not seem in any way intimidating.
“When I saw his photograph in 2018, I did not recognise him as the face of the young man I knew. It is tragic. I was in his home once or twice.
“He was not a threatening type of character.
“You might have a mental image of hard nuts with tattoos on their face and knuckles and with a strut that says ‘stay out of my way’. But he had none of those traits.
“One cannot be surprised that he got out of jail as he seemed so plausible as a person.”
Another man said he knew McFall from childhood.
“Yeah I knew him from I was about eight until the paramilitaries put him out. He had multiple run-ins with them over the years. I remember a Sunday paper doing a story when his flat got paint-bombed.”
He added that McFall had been known for scaring children in Greenisland with replica weapons. He had convictions for violence and weapons before his first murder.
Ms Nguyen, known as Anna, was last seen alive arriving in Unwin’s house at 7.30pm on the night of her death.
Newcastle Crown Court heard that McFall was lying in wait for the victim. Ms Nguyen was dragged through the house and tortured to extract information including her bank card PIN number.
Both men participated in the attack, which saw Unwin rape her himself and with other objects, and ended with them partially suffocating her.
They injected her with a syringe filled with whiskey before Unwin took her bank cards to a nearby Co-op to withdraw £500.
He returned to the house and as she lay incapacitated on the floor and the pair tidied up and casually cooked and ate a curry.
Then they wrapped Ms Nguyen in a dust sheet and put her, unconscious, in the back seat of her Audi, driving it to some deserted allotments and setting the car and her on fire.
Forensic evidence suggested she was still alive when the car was set alight.
McFall and Unwin took a smiling selfie together during a trip to withdraw cash from her bank account.