Farmer who killed wife and kept rotting body in septic tank for decades jailed

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An 89-year-old pig farmer who brutally murdered his wife and stored her rotting body in his septic tank for years has been jailed for life after he tried to blame the murder on serial killer Fred West.

In a lengthy trial at Worcester Crown Court, jurors heard how David Venables butchered his 48-year-old wife Brenda so he could run off with his secret lover in 1982.

Brenda's grisly remains lay undisturbed for 37 years in the putrid tank beneath Quaking House Farm, in Kempsey, Worcestershire and were only discovered in 2019 by the new owners of the property.

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Venables, who has previously claimed Gloucester serial killer Fred West may have been responsible for his wife’s death, told the trial he searched in vain for her after waking up to find her missing on May 4 1982.

Describing the day she vanished, Venables said he had woken up to find his wife not in bed and thought she must have gone to make a cup of tea.

He said: "I went to have a look. She had just disappeared. I felt perhaps she had gone to see friends. There was no sign of her anywhere."

He also intimated that Brenda had been 'depressed' and that he thought she had likely committed suicide in the tank without his knowledge.

During police interviews, desperate Venables had even tried to blame his wife’s death on Fred West who was carrying out his reign of terror with wife Rose at the time.

Venables theorised that because Gloucestershire was on the Worcestershire border this is what may have happened to his wife.

He told police that his theory was that Fred West had abducted and killed Brenda Venables and then found out about the septic tank and put her body in it.

“He said this was just a theory of his and he had no evidence for it, but it was something he thought may have happened,” Prosecutor Michael Burrows QC told the court during the trial.

The prosecution alleged that Venables knew exactly where Brenda was hidden and had been driven to his cruel act by his desire to embark on affairs with other women.

Earlier in the trial, jurors heard Venables was having a "long-standing affair" with his mum's former carer Lorraine Styles behind wife Brenda's back.

Mr Burrows said he "wanted her out of the way" adding that "it was David Venables who killed her".

He continued: "He wanted to resume his long-standing affair with another woman. He knew about the septic tank in its secluded location. It was for him almost the perfect hiding place."

Venables, who was given headphones to aid his hearing, blinked several times when the verdict was returned and then stared back towards the jury bench.

The jurors who deliberated for more than 16 hours over the course of almost a week were advised to seek support if needed "tragic" facts of the case, trial judge Mrs Justice Tipples said.

The 89-year-old is now likely to die behind bars after being convicted of murder. He is due to be sentenced next week.

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