David Venables has been found guilty of the murder of wife Brenda almost 40 years ago (Images: PA)
A retired pig farmer has been found guilty of the murder of his wife, whose body was found hidden in a septic tank 37 years after her disappearance.
David Venables, 89, tried to blame Fred West for the murder of Brenda Venables, saying the serial killer had links to the Worcestershire village of Kempsey, where she disappeared in May 1982.
His legal team also claimed Ms Venables may have left her marital home at Quaking House Farm and “either killed herself or met or met anyone who intended to harm her”.
But the jury of seven women and five men deliberated nearly 17 hours over four days before convicting Venables of the May 3 or 4, 1982 murder of his wife.
Earlier they were told by Prosecutor Michael Burrows QC that Venables “got away with it” for nearly 40 years after dumping his wife in the septic tank near Quaking House Farm.
Her skull and other bones were discovered during work to drain the underground chamber on July 12, 2019, six years after Venables sold the property for more than £460,000.
Mug shot of David Venables issued by West Mercia Police (Image: PA)
Undated family photo of Brenda Venables in the garden at Quaking House Farm (Image: PA)
Newspaper clipping from the Worcester News reporting the disappearance of Brenda Venables in 1982 (Image: Worcester News/SWNS)
Mr Burrows dismissed Venables’ defense as absurd, saying at the start of the trial: “The truth, prosecutors say, is that it was David Venables who killed her.
“He wanted her out of the way — he wanted to resume his longtime affair with another woman, Lorraine Styles. He knew about the septic tank in their remote place. It was almost the perfect hiding place for him.
“It meant he didn’t have to travel and risk being seen making a suspicious trip at the time of her disappearance, or risk being seen disposing of her body elsewhere.
“And of course, even if someone thought to look inside the tank, their body wouldn’t be visible. And for nearly 40 years, it was the perfect place to get away with murder.”
David Venables threatens to spend the rest of his life in prison if he is sentenced next week (Image: PA)
Mr Burrows said that in 1981 Ms Styles “again had doubts about David Venables’ feelings for her” but that the farm owner reignited the extramarital affair over Christmas and New Year – months before his wife disappeared.
Venables, described by a witness at the trial as a smartly dressed “typical gentleman farmer,” told the jury he woke up on the morning of May 4, 1982 to find his then 48-year-old wife gone.
He said he then searched the surrounding lanes and a stretch of the nearby River Severn.
After the murder, the court heard, Venables appeared calm to those who knew him.
He later applied for the annulment of his marriage to Ms. Venables, who was described in court by relatives and friends as a kind, hospitable and kind woman.
Aerial view of Quaking House Farm near Kempsey in Worcestershire where police discovered human bones in a cesspool (Photo: Tristan Potter/SWNS)
Worcester Crown Court was told the pensioner had informed police after his arrest in 2019 that he believed West had killed Brenda, who had been diagnosed with depression.
The court heard a friend of someone Venables knew had told him that “Fred West met her at a bus stop in Worcester early one morning and she managed to escape”.
Venables, of Kempsey, told investigators, “I’ve since wondered if he was responsible for picking her up and eventually disposing of her body.”
It was also submitted on behalf of Venables that West had been working emptying septic tanks and that Ms Venables’ disappearance had been wrongly “ignored” in investigations into the Gloucester builder following his arrest by Gloucestershire Police in 1994.
Venables has been remanded in custody and will be sentenced next Wednesday.
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