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Farmer, 89, ‘got away with murder’ for 40 years

A former farmer has been accused of dumping his wife’s body into a septic tank while having a ‘long-standing affair’.

89-year-old David Venables ‘got away with murder’ for nearly 40 years, Worcester Crown Court heard today.

He is alleged to have killed ‘prim and proper’ Brenda Venables before hiding her body in a septic tank not far from their home in Worcestershire.

Mrs Venables’ remains were only discovered in the underground chamber – in what was once a ‘rough’, overgrown and ‘secluded’ spot – 37 years after she vanished in 1982.

Prosecuting, Michael Burrows QC, claimed Venables had been in an on-off relationship with his mother’s former carer Lorraine Styles in the run-up to his wife’s disappearance.

The Crown alleged that Venables, then 49, killed his wife, 48, and dumped her body in a septic tank in the grounds of ‘remote’ Quaking House Farm, off Bestmans Lane, Kempsey, where the couple had lived since 1961.

Mr Burrows said: ‘The truth, say the prosecution, is that it was David Venables who killed her.

PABest 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, over two years after the remains of his wife 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
Venables arrives at Worcester Crown Court, where he is standing trial for around six weeks (Picture: PA)
FILE PICTURE ??? Linked to todays SWNS story SWMDmurder, June 13, 2022, about how David Venables (88) will go on trial at Worcester Crown Court, after being charged with murdering his wife Brenda Venables (48) in 1982. 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 (Foreground) near Kempsey in Worcestershire, where police discovered human bones in a cesspit (RED). The remains are thought to be that of missing wife, Brenda Venables, who disappeared without a trace from the farm that she shared with her husband David in 1982. In the distance is the village of Kempsey where suspect David Venables now lives in a bungalow (WHITE) after selling the farm.
The farm’s septic tank (red) and where Venables lives now (white) (Picture: SWNS)

‘He wanted her out of the way: 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.’

Mr Burrows continued: ‘It meant he didn’t have to travel and risk being seen making a suspicious journey around the time of her disappearance or risk being seen disposing of her body somewhere else.

FILE PICTURE ??? Linked to todays SWNS story SWMDmurder, June 13, 2022, about how David Venables (88) will go on trial at Worcester Crown Court, after being charged with murdering his wife Brenda Venables (48) in 1982. He was arrested after her remains were found in a septic tank at the couple's former home in Kempsey, Worcestershire in July 2019. The septic tank at Quaking House Farm where the remains were found. An 86 year old man has been arrested for murder after human remains were found in a farm septic tank, Kempsey, Worcestershire, 30.7.2019 See SWNS story SWMDbones. Police have arrested an 86-year-old man on suspicion of murder after a woman's remains were found in a septic tank. Human bones found in the cesspit are believed to be those of Brenda Venables who disappeared in 1982. The 48-year-old went missing from her home, Quaking House Farm, where she lived with husband David in Kempsey, Worcs. Workers found the remains there on July 12 and cops have dismissed speculation they may be of estate agent Suzy Lamplugh, who vanished in nearby Pershore in 1986.
The septic tank at Quaking House Farm was branded ‘almost the perfect hiding place’ (Picture: SWNS)
FILE PICTURE ? Linked to todays SWNS story SWMDmurder, June 13, 2022, about how David Venables (88) will go on trial at Worcester Crown Court, after being charged with murdering his wife Brenda Venables (48) in 1982. He was arrested after her remains were found in a septic tank at the couple's former home in Kempsey, Worcestershire in July 2019. David Venables, 86, leaving his bungalow in Kempsy, Worcestershire, July 19, 2019. Venables' wife Brenda went missing in 1982 from their marital home on the edge of the village where police have discovered human bones in a cesspit. See SWNS story SWMDbones. Police have arrested an 86-year-old man on suspicion of murder after a woman's remains were found in a septic tank. Human bones found in the cesspit are believed to be those of Brenda Venables who disappeared in 1982. The 48-year-old went missing from her home, Quaking House Farm, where she lived with husband David in Kempsey, Worcs. Workers found the remains there on July 12 and cops have dismissed speculation they may be of estate agent Suzy Lamplugh, who vanished in nearby Pershore in 1986. Local residents say the remains are thought to be that of Mrs Venables. Her husband, now aged 86, sold the farmhouse for ?467,000 in 2014 and now lives in a bungalow a mile away in the village. A spokeswoman for West Mercia Police said: ?We will not confirm or deny the identity of the man in custody. ?Police investigating the discovery of female human remains, in a septic tank, in the village of Kempsey on Friday 12 July have arrested a man on suspicion of murder. ?The 86-year-old man from Kempsey remains in custody at this time helping officers with their enquiries.?
Venables is said to have been having an affair at the time of his wife’s death (Picture: SWNS)

‘And, of course, even if someone did think to look inside the tank, her body would be hidden from view.

‘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 claimed that by 1981, Ms Styles had ‘doubts again about David Venables’ feelings for her’.

But he said that the farm owner rekindled the extramarital affair over that Christmas and New Year – just months before his wife vanished.

The prosecutor claim Ms Styles ended a relationship she was having with another man, ‘in reliance on what Mr Venables had said to her’ about his romantic intentions

Yet ‘she noticed that David Venables did not mention his divorce, unless she brought the subject up and even then he made excuses’, Mr Burrows added.

Jurors heard Venables reported his wife missing at Worcester police station May 4, 1982.

Newspaper clippings from the time show Venables alleging that he woke up to find his wife had gone – and that he didn’t have ‘the faintest idea’ what had happened to her.

FILE PICTURE ? Linked to todays SWNS story SWMDmurder, June 13, 2022, about how David Venables (88) will go on trial at Worcester Crown Court, after being charged with murdering his wife Brenda Venables (48) in 1982. 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 Brenda Venables disappearance in 1982. Human bones have been found in a septic tank in a house that used to belong to farmer David Veanables - 37 years after his went Brenda went missing. See SWNS story SWMDbones. Human bones found at the bottom of a septic tank are believed to belong to a farmer?s wife who went missing 37 years ago. Brenda Venables disappeared in 1982 aged 48 from her home in the village of Kempsey, Worcs. Maintenance workers found human remains last Friday (12/7) at Quaking House Farm on Bestmans Lane - where Mrs Venables and her husband David used to live. The discovery was initially thought to be connected to the search for murdered estate agent Suzy Lamplugh in nearby Pershore but police ruled it out.
Newspaper clippings from the time of the death (Picture: Worcester News/SWNS)
FILE PICTURE ??? Linked to todays SWNS story SWMDmurder, June 13, 2022, about how David Venables (88) will go on trial at Worcester Crown Court, after being charged with murdering his wife Brenda Venables (48) in 1982. 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 cesspit. The remains are thought to be that of missing wife, Brenda Venables, who disappeared without a trace from the farm that she shared with her husband David in 1982.
Venables sold the farm to his nephew in 2019 (Picture: SWNS)

He also said she had been depressed.

A police investigation failed to find any trace of Mrs Venables, while ‘some people thought she had committed suicide’.

By 2019, Venables had sold the farm to his nephew, and it was in July of that year when workers, clearing out the septic tank found bones including a human skull.

DNA testing confirmed it was Mrs Venables.

Mr Burrows continued: ‘The prosecution say that it is beyond belief to suppose that Brenda Venables took her own life by climbing into the septic tank and that she somehow shifted the heavy lid and put it back in place above her so that there was no sign of any disturbance.’

He added: ‘The farm itself is in a remote location and the septic tank, itself, was in a very secluded area.

‘Very few people knew about it.

‘The prosecution say it is preposterous to suppose that Brenda Venables walked out of their house that night and was confronted by someone outside the house.

‘Someone who just happened to be outside her home then and who attacked and killed her and hid her body in the septic tank, which was hidden from view and which so few people knew about.’

Venables, who is on bail, has been sitting in court with earphones to follow proceedings, jurors have been told.

The pensioner, now of Kempsey, denies murdering his wife between May 2 and May 5 1982.

The trial, scheduled to last six weeks, continues.

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