Those are the words of Dermot Murnaghan when asked what stood out from the murder of Phillip Nicholson.

The broadcaster has explored the callous killing of the young adult at the hands of Isabella Gossling and Richard Moors in Boscombe as part of the second season of true-crime television show Killer Britain with Dermot Murnaghan.

Mr Nicholson died of stab wounds to the neck at the hands of his ex-girlfriend Gossling and her new partner Moors.

The 22-year-old, a former pupil of Winchelsea School, lived in supported accommodation in Parkstone and was lured to Gossling's flat in Sea Road on May 26, 2015.

Bournemouth Echo: Phillip NicholsonPhillip Nicholson

Gossling and Moors told him he was going to meet another woman but he was tormented and killed.

The 17-minute attack, in which Mr Nicholson’s throat was slashed, was recorded on Gossling’s phone.

The couple, who got engaged hours after the vicious attack, were captured on CCTV strolling away from the flat holding hands.

Asked what struck him about the case, Mr Murnaghan told the Daily Echo: “I remember the reporting on the end of the trial and it just jumped out what was said, truly evil.

“Then you saw the pictures of this really young couple and underneath it are the words ‘truly evil’.

“I was intrigued. They didn’t look truly evil. We all make judgements don’t we, so then getting involved in the case very deeply now with Killer Britain, just examining how it all unfolded.

“It is almost a game – is that the right word? This sadistic game they played. It almost beggars belief.

“I was almost crying out as I was doing this story ‘oh Phillip, Phillip, Phillip, oh, they are playing you, they are pulling you along here, they are manipulating you’ and all those just basic emotions coming out.

“It really is the most heart-wrenching story.”

Listen to the full interview from the Daily Echo with Dermot Murnghan on the audio player below

'A brutal and protracted attack'

The murderers were jailed for life after Gossling, then 20, was found guilty of murder following a trial at Winchester Crown Court and Moors, then 26, pleaded guilty to the same offence at Portsmouth Crown Court.

Bournemouth Echo: Richard MoorsRichard Moors

Judge Alan Wilkie ordered that Moors must serve at least 22 years behind bars and Gossling at least 19 years.

After the sentencing hearing in December 2015, Senior Investigating Officer Detective Chief Inspector Stewart Balmer, of Dorset Police’s Major Crime Investigation Team, said: "Isabella Gossling and Richard Moors are truly evil.

"They targeted Phillip Nicholson because he was vulnerable and they could exert power over him. They subjected Phillip to a brutal and protracted attack."

Bournemouth Echo: Isabella GosslingIsabella Gossling

Just six days prior to the killing, Mr Nicholson had been invited to the flat under the same pretext of meeting a woman.

He was held captive and his phone taken from him before the pair recorded him 'confessing' to raping Gossling in 2014, when the two were in a relationship.

There is no evidence that the alleged rape took place.

Supporting the vulnerable

During an inquest in Mr Nicholson's death, a jury examining the brutal murder of was told of attempts made to keep him away from the two people who killed him.

The inquest in Bournemouth in March 2019 was told concerns had been raised about Mr Nicholson's relationship with Gossling, who had assaulted a previous vulnerable partner.

Before his death, Mr Nicholson, who had learning disabilities, had received threatening text messages and had been detained against his will at Gossling's Boscombe flat.

It was said during the inquest that social workers and police had advised Mr Nicholson to keep away from them.

But it was also heard that he was assessed as having capacity to make his own decisions despite his learning disabilities and a low IQ.

Discussing if the murder raised wider implications on how society supported vulnerable people, Mr Murnaghan said: “That is absolutely at the heart of this case.

“We want to support vulnerable people like Phillip. Delighted to see him and so many others be able to make their way in the community, playing a fruitful role in society and supporting themselves as much as possible with what support is needed from society.

Bournemouth Echo: The second season of Killer Britain with Dermot Murnaghan airs across the week commencing Monday, May 31The second season of Killer Britain with Dermot Murnaghan airs across the week commencing Monday, May 31

“And then this case on the surface of it the contacts were still there, a bit of support was still there, but it was just how Moors and Gossling were able to get under that protective shield and it wasn’t much of a protective shield in actual fact if we describe it that no one was able to identify what was going on, that Phillip wasn’t really able to explain to other people what was happening to him.

“He had no awareness, this is the awful thing. He had no awareness of what terrible danger he was in and that vulnerability and in a sense gullibility. It really is worrying.”

He added: “If we are, and I firmly believe we should, to encourage people like Phillip to be as independent as possible, then we have to have those proper means, those well-funded means of support in place as well.”

The five-part Killer Britain with Dermot Murnaghan series will air across the week commencing Monday, May 31, on Crime + Investigation with each weeknight highlighting one of five cases which gripped the nation in fear until the killer was brought to justice. The episode on the murder of Mr Nicholson is due to air on Thursday, June 3, at 9pm.