Jury told of claim Fred West ‘responsible’ for death of wife found in cesspit

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

A “gentleman farmer” accused of murdering and dumping his “prim and proper” wife in a septic tank in 1982 claimed Fred West “was responsible” for killing his spouse, a court heard.

Retired David Venables, 89, is said by prosecutors to have “got away with murder” for nearly 40 years by allegedly disposing of his wife Brenda Venables, shortly after rekindling a “long-standing affair”.

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 Venables, then 49, rekindled a “longstanding” affair he was having with his mother’s former carer just months before his wife disappeared.

The septic tank at Quaking House Farm where Mrs Venables’ remains were found (Richard Vernalls/PA) (PA Archive)
The septic tank at Quaking House Farm where Mrs Venables’ remains were found (Richard Vernalls/PA) (PA Archive)

On Friday, the jury heard accounts of the police’s interviews with Venables, after he was arrested in 2019 on suspicion of murdering his wife, nearly 40 years after she vanished.

“One thing did happen,” Venables told police.

“A lady rang me up – I vaguely knew her, actually, she used to keep house with a friend I knew – she said Fred West picked her up in Worcester at a bus stop early one morning, and she managed to escape.

“I wondered since whether he was responsible for picking her (Mrs Venables) up and eventually disposing of her body.”

The police then asked Venables: “Who was that lady (who rang you)?”

“I can’t tell you, I can’t even remember what her name was,” said Venables.

“The friend she kept house with died three to four years ago.”

I went to look and she had just disappeared

David Venables

He also told officers his wife had been “depressed” at the couple being unable to have children, but that she appeared “normal” on the night of May 3, 1982, when he has claimed she vanished.

Venables, then 49, said the couple had watched a report about the Falklands War on the television news, and his wife had been playing with the couple’s new West Highland terrier.

He claimed to have last seen his wife of 22 years “in bed”, after she had changed into her nightdress.

“When I woke the next morning she wasn’t in bed.

“I went to look and she had just disappeared.”

Venables was asked by interviewing officers about any personal effects she had left behind, with him recalling she had removed her engagement ring – and placed it on the bedside table.

Why would you give a ring away which had so much sentimental value?

Police to Venables in interview

Asked where it now was, Venables said: “I gave it to Mrs Morgan’s daughter, probably three to four years ago.

“Mr and Mrs Morgan – I went to school with her father – so I thought, just let her have it.

“They were good friends.”

“The ring wasn’t valuable,” he added, although he “didn’t know” how much the band, made of gold with a diamond, had cost, though Venables had recalled the couple had gone “together to buy it”.

The interviewing officer then asked: “Why would you give a ring away which had so much sentimental value – your wife had gone missing and you gave her ring away?”

Venables replied: “Well it (the disappearance) was over 30 years ago.

“I thought about selling it, but didn’t.”

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

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