David Venables found guilty of 1982 murder of his wife whose body was hidden in septic tank

·2-min read

A retired pig farmer has been found guilty of the 1982 murder of his wife, whose body was found hidden in a septic tank at their farmhouse 37 years later.

David Venables, 89, tried to blame serial killer Fred West for Brenda Venables's murder.

During the month-long trial, his legal team said West had links to the Worcestershire village of Kempsey, where Brenda disappeared in May 1982.

They also claimed Mrs Venables may have left her marital home at Quaking House Farm and "either killed herself or met with or encountered someone who wished her harm".

But the jury convicted Venables of murdering his wife on either 3 May or 4 May 1982.

Prosecutor Michael Burrows QC said Venables had "got away with murder" for nearly 40 years after dumping his wife in the septic tank close to the farm.

Her skull and other bones were discovered during work to empty the underground chamber on 12 July 2019, six years after Venables had sold the property for more than £460,000.

Dismissing Venables' defence as preposterous, Mr Burrows said at the start of the trial: "The truth, say the prosecution, is that it was David Venables who killed her.

"He wanted her out of the way - he wanted to resume his long-standing affair with another woman, Lorraine Styles.

"He knew about the septic tank in its secluded location. It was for him almost the perfect hiding place.

"And for nearly 40 years, it was the perfect place and he got away with murder."

The jury heard Venables' affair with Ms Styles started around 1967, and continued on and off.

Mr Burrows said that by 1981, Ms Styles had "doubts again about David Venables' feelings for her", but that the farm owner rekindled the extramarital affair over that Christmas and new year, months before his wife vanished.

Venables told the jury he woke up on the morning of 4 May 1982 to find his wife, then aged 48, had disappeared.

He said he then searched surrounding lanes and a stretch of the nearby River Severn.

Following the murder, the court heard, Venables appeared calm to those who knew him.

He later sought an annulment of his marriage to Mrs Venables, who was described by relatives and friends in court as a kind, hospitable and friendly woman.

Worcester Crown Court was told the pensioner informed police after his arrest in 2019 that he believed West may have killed Brenda, who had been diagnosed with depression.

Venables was remanded in custody and will be sentenced next Wednesday.

Speaking on behalf of West Mercia Police, Detective Sergeant James Beard said: "The terrible truth is that Brenda was killed by the person who was meant to care for her most. He then let her family and friends go for so long not knowing what happened to her."

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