Murder-accused farmer fell for wife over ‘sandwiches and trifle’, jury told

·3-min read
David Venables, 89, arrives at Worcester Crown Court (Jacob King/PA) (PA Wire)
David Venables, 89, arrives at Worcester Crown Court (Jacob King/PA) (PA Wire)

A “gentleman farmer” accused of murdering and dumping his wife in a septic tank in 1982 fell for his “good-looking” future spouse over “sandwiches and trifle”, he has told a jury.

Retired David Venables, 89, is said by prosecutors to have “got away with murder” for nearly 40 years by disposing of wife Brenda.

The remains of Mrs Venables, 48, were found in the underground cesspit at the former marital home, Quaking House Farm, in Kempsey, Worcestershire, in 2019.

Worcester Crown Court has previously heard that Venables, then 49, had rekindled a “longstanding” affair he was having with his mother’s former carer months before his wife disappeared.

She was always good company, and we just got on well together

David Venables

He has previously claimed Gloucestershire serial killer Fred West may have been responsible for his wife’s death.

Venables, giving evidence for the first time in his defence on Wednesday, told how he met his “good-looking” wife-to-be at Droitwich Winter Gardens, during a Worcester and Kidderminster Young Farmers club social in 1957, when he was 25 and she was 23.

He told jurors: “We probably danced together and we all got common friends, and I think there was usually refreshments as well, so we joined together and got to know one another.

“There’d be drinks. Usually sandwiches and trifle.”

Asked by his barrister, Timothy Hannam QC, what had “turned his head” towards her, Venables replied: “She was always very pleasant.

“And whenever you went out she was always good company, and we just got on well together.”

He added she was “very good-looking (and) just generally appealing”.

David Venables arrives at Worcester Crown Court (Jacob King/PA) (PA Wire)
David Venables arrives at Worcester Crown Court (Jacob King/PA) (PA Wire)

The couple saw each other “once every 10 days” while courting, mainly on evenings and at weekends, when he said they would go “to shows, go for a drive and a day out somewhere”.

Venables juggled time seeing Brenda with working on the family-owned Baynhall farm.

With his father – until his death in 1977 – and younger brother Peter, the family reared 3,000 pigs a year for bacon, had an acre of glasshouses, growing plants and vegetables, and a further 436 acres of arable and grass land.

Brenda’s home was in the village of Rushock, between Bromsgrove and Droitwich, he added, so he would also stop in “for breakfast” on the way home from 4am trips taking produce from the farm to Birmingham market.

The couple were married on June 1 1960 at Brenda’s local parish church in Rushock, before honeymooning in Jersey for a week.

Venables’ father had given land at Quaking House Farm – which he had set aside to build his own retirement property – to the oldest of his two sons, Venables, to build a marital home.

The property, in Bestmans Lane, was finished shortly after the wedding and boasted a “magnificent view” of the surrounding countryside, and the couple moved in in around February 1961.

Venables, who supervised the build, told the jury he had the septic tank built in the grounds of the house.

The accused, of Elgar Drive, Kempsey, denies murdering his wife between May 2 and May 5 1982. The trial continues, and is scheduled to last six weeks.

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