Retired pig farmer David Venables, 89, is said to have “got away with murder” for nearly 40 years by allegedly disposing of his wife, Brenda Venables, shortly after reigniting a “longstanding affair,” according to prosecutors.
Image: Anita Maric / SWNS)
Police searching for a missing woman in 1982 walked yards from the septic tank where her body was found 37 years later, a murder trial has heard.
Retired pig farmer David Venables, 89, is said to have “got away with murder” for nearly 40 years by allegedly disposing of his wife, Brenda Venables, shortly after rekindling a “longstanding affair,” according to prosecutors.
The remains of “primitive and orderly” Mrs Venables were found in 2019 in the subterranean cesspool of the former marital home, Quaking House Farm, in Kempsey, Worcestershire.
Venables later suggested to officers that Fred West may have had something to do with the disappearance.
Worcester Crown Court jurors have already heard details of Venables’ 14-year “on-off” affair with the late mother of three, Lorraine Styles, including how he visited his lover for sex just days after his wife’s disappearance.
Police officers involved in the “high profile” search for Ms Venables after her disappearance in May 1982 described how dogs, boats and a helicopter were used to search local waterways, fields, forests and farm outbuildings.
Worcester News / SWNS)
Retired West Mercia Police Officer Peter Sharrock was among the search teams but told how the septic tank appeared to have been missed by those searching for 48-year-old Mrs Venables.
Mr Sharrock said he was unaware that officers searched the underground chamber, adding: “I certainly never took part in the search of the septic tank.
“I walked past it to get to the river area to be searched.”
He added: “Nobody mentioned searching the tank.”
He described how media coverage in 2019 of the discovery of human remains triggered a memory of what he now knew was the cesspool.
In his statement, read in court on Thursday, he said: “I am aware from recent newspaper reports that a body has been found in a septic tank.
Tristan Potter / SWNS)
“As soon as I saw an aerial view of the site, I remembered seeing then what I was seeing now.”
He added: “I remember seeing a lump of concrete in the yard of the farmhouse.
“The image on the news showed the area now surrounded by trees and bushes.”
Other witnesses have described how in 1982 the septic tank stood in a “wild” area of the yard, overgrown with grass and littered with debris.
Mr Sharrock, who testified on the witness stand, was asked by Venables QC Timothy Hannam for further details of the concrete tank.
Mr Sharrock said: “When I saw it in the newspaper it triggered a memory in my head.”
“How far were you from it in 1982 when you saw it?” asked Mr. Hannam.
Emma Trimble / SWNS)
“Probably about 20 to 30 meters away,” the retired official said.
“I walked over grass, I don’t remember if it was in the (farm) garden or in the (neighboring) field.”
When asked why he didn’t go to the septic tank, he said since he grew up in “urban areas” an off-main sewer was “nothing that I know of”.
He added: “We were headed into the forest and were just heading into that area.
“At the time it just looked like a concrete block (area) and I didn’t pay any attention to it.
“The word is hindsight, really.”
Venables of Elgar Drive, Kempsey, denies murdering his wife between May 2nd and 5th, 1982 and the trial, scheduled to last six weeks, continues.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/police-walked-past-septic-tank-27255366 Police walked past a septic tank where the body of a "murdered" woman was found 37 years later