A retired pig farmer who murdered his wife and dumped her body in a septic tank in 1982 has been sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 18 years.
The sentence handed down to David Venables means he would have to live to be 107 before he could even apply for parole.
The 89-year-old, who rekindled a long-standing affair at their farmhouse shortly before the murder of Brenda Venables, showed no emotion last week when he was found guilty by a 10-2 majority.
A month-long trial was told Ms Venables’ body was found in 2019 while working to empty the septic tank at Quaking House Farm in Kempsey, Worcestershire, 37 years after the 48-year-old was reported missing to police was.
Her Elgar Drive husband, Kempsey, attempted to frame Gloucester serial killer Fred West for the murder, while his legal team suggested that Mrs Venables may have killed herself.
Speaking at Worcester Crown Court on Wednesday, High Court Judge Justice Tipples said Venables had committed the most serious crime.
The judge told the killer, who showed no emotion in the dock, that he was responsible for many aspects of his wife’s mental illness.
Addressing the motive for the murder, she told Venables, “I am sure you killed Brenda Venables to remove her from your life and the complications she may have caused you in a divorce proceeding.
“There is undoubtedly an element of greed and selfishness.”
The judge added, “I don’t accept that your life expectancy has to be short.”
The judge also dismissed defense claims that the murder was carried out in the heat of the moment, telling Venables that the whole process of disposing of the body in the septic tank and then leaving a trail behind must have required considerable planning.
She told the pensioner: “They killed Brenda Venables in her own home where she was recovering with an injured leg and suffering from depression. You were Brenda’s husband and she could have trusted you.
“Your complete lack of respect for Brenda is evident from your decision to dispose of her body in the septic tank.
“The fact that you did that to her body is disgusting and repulsive.”
Venables showed no emotion during the judge’s lengthy reasoning, but could be heard shouting “no” repeatedly after being escorted out of the courtroom toward the cells.
Venables’ attorneys alleged during the trial that Ms Venables may have left her marital home and “either killed herself or met or met anyone who intended to harm her.”
The retiree told jurors he woke up in the morning to find his wife missing, but he was convicted of her murder on either May 3 or May 4, 1982.
The victim’s skull and other bones were discovered in the underground tank on July 12, 2019, six years after Venables sold the property for more than £460,000.
Before handing down the life sentence, defense attorney Timothy Hannam QC asked the court to consider whether the defendant had killed his wife “in the heat of action” with a “fleeting” intent to kill.
The disposal of the body in the tank was indicative of a rushed and panicked attempt to cover up the crime, Mr Hannam said.
Mr Hannam added: “The simple fact is that he is 89 years old and whatever minimum sentence is imposed today, he will die in prison.”
Mr Hannam described the prospect of Venables living to 100 in prison as illusory, adding: “Because of that reality it will be a lifetime tariff.
“This is an important point that we must make on his behalf.”
In a joint victim statement presented to the court, Ms Venables’ family said: “Brenda’s disappearance was devastating to her parents, who were in their 80s.
“Brenda was her main caregiver, shopped and looked after her, so the impact on her was both emotional and practical.
“They just couldn’t understand how Brenda could just disappear. Her father Harold longed for her return and never gave up hope.
“He died heartbroken two and a half years later.”
The family statement added: “The appalling circumstances in which she was found have been very difficult for her entire family to cope with.
“The thought of Brenda lying there undiscovered for over 37 years while the septic tank continued to be used is simply unthinkable.
“We will never, as a family, be able to forgive David Venables for what he has done. It’s impossible to come to terms with the fact that Brenda’s life was taken by the very person she should have loved and protected.”
© evening standard
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/britain/david-venables-elderly-farmer-who-murdered-wife-in-1982-ordered-to-serve-at-least-18-years-41856082.html David Venables: Elderly farmer who murdered his wife in 1982 and was sentenced to at least 18 years in prison