Retired pig farmer guilty of murdering wife whose body was dumped in septic tank

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.

Undated family photo issued by West Mercia Police of retired pig farmer David Venables, 89, who was found guilty at Worcester Crown Court of the 1982 murder of his wife Brenda, whose body was found hidden in a septic tank 37 years after her disappearance.  Issue date: Friday July 15, 2022. PA Photo.  See PA story COURTS Venables.  Photo credit should read: West Mercia Police/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may be used for editorial reporting purposes only to accompany the depiction of any event, thing or person depicted in the photo or any fact mentioned in the photo's caption.  Reuse of the image may require further permission from the copyright owner.

Mug shot of David Venables issued by West Mercia Police (Image: PA)

BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE Undated family photograph issued by West Mercia Police of Brenda Venables in the garden of Quaking House Farm, Kempsey, Worcestershire where her body was found in a septic tank in 1982.  Retired pig farmer David Venables, 89, has been found guilty at Worcester Crown Court of the 1982 murder of his wife Brenda. Issue date: Friday July 15, 2022. PA Photo.  See PA story COURTS Venables.  Photo credit should read: West Mercia Police/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may be used for editorial reporting purposes only to accompany the depiction of any event, thing or person depicted in the photo or any fact mentioned in the photo's caption.  Reuse of the image may require further permission from the copyright owner.

Undated family photo of Brenda Venables in the garden at Quaking House Farm (Image: PA)

FILE IMAGE ?  Linked to today's SWNS story SWMDmorder, July 14, 2022, on how the jury backed out in the case at Worcester Crown Court against David Venables, 88, who was charged with the 1982 murder of his wife Brenda Venables, 48 court stands.  He was arrested after her remains were found in a septic tank at the couple's former home in Kempsey, Worcestershire, in July 2019.  Newspaper clipping from the Worcester News reporting the disappearance of Brenda Venables in 1982 belonging to farmer David Veanables - 37 years after his death Brenda disappeared.  See SWNS story SWMDbones.  Human bones found at the bottom of a septic tank are believed to belong to a farmer who went missing 37 years ago.  Brenda Venables disappeared from her home in the village of Kempsey, Worcs in 1982 at the age of 48.  Maintenance workers found human remains at Quaking House Farm on Bestmans Lane last Friday (12/7) - where Mrs Venables and her husband David used to live.  The discovery was initially believed to be linked to the search for murdered real estate agent Suzy Lamplugh in nearby Pershore, but police have ruled this out.

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, 89, arrives at Worcester Crown Court where he is accused of murdering his wife Brenda, whose remains were found in a septic tank.  Venables, of Elgar Drive, Kempsey, was charged with murder in June 2021, more than two years after his wife's remains were discovered at the couple's former home in the Worcestershire village.  She, then 48, was reported missing in 1982.  Picture date: Wednesday June 8, 2022. PA Photo.  See PA story COURTS Kempsey.  Photo credit should read: Jacob King/PA Wire

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.

FILE IMAGE???  Linked to today's SWNS story SWMDmorder, July 14, 2022, on how the jury backed out in the case at Worcester Crown Court against David Venables, 88, who was charged with the 1982 murder of his wife Brenda Venables, 48 court stands.  He was arrested after her remains were found in a septic tank at the couple's former home in Kempsey, Worcestershire, in July 2019.  Aerial view of Quaking House Farm near Kempsey in Worcestershire where police discovered human bones in a cesspool.  The remains are believed to be the missing wife Brenda Venables, who disappeared without a trace from the farm she shared with her husband David in 1982.

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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