A pig farmer who got away with murder for 40 years will spend the rest of his life in prison after being convicted of his wife’s murder.
David Venables, 89, murdered his wife Brenda and dumped her body in the septic tank of their marital home in Kempsey, Worcestershire in May 1982.
Police, who treated her disappearance as a missing person inquiry and never searched the tank, eventually found her remains when Andrew Venables, who bought the farm from his uncle, drained a cesspool in 2019.
The court heard the couple met at a Worcester and Kidderminster Young Farmers Club Social in 1957 when he was 25 and she was 23.
David Venables, 89, is accused of murdering his 48-year-old wife Brenda in 1982 and dumping her body in a septic tank near their farmhouse in Kempsey, Worcestershire
A handout photo of Brenda Venables, 48, whose remains were found in a septic tank outside the home she shared with David Venables in 2019 – 37 years after her disappearance
They married at Brenda’s local parish church in Rushock in 1960 and the following year moved into Quaking House Farm, built by Venables on land given to him by his father and which boasted “magnificent views” of the surrounding countryside.
But by the end of the decade, their marriage was in trouble. They had no children, a situation that worried Brenda, according to her friend Vicky Jennings, and Venables had begun a series of affairs with other women.
One of them was Lorraine Styles, who had been caring for Venables’ mother and began a sexual relationship with the wealthy farmer after he drove her home in 1967.
She died in 2017, but a statement she made to detectives in 1984 revealed details of their affair and how Venables had reacted after his wife’s disappearance.
Ms Styles said Venables offered to bring a catering-size pork pie to help with refreshments at her daughter’s 21st birthday party, but a week before the party rang to say his wife was gone.
She said: “He seemed quite composed and suddenly told me that his wife had disappeared the day before and that he would call me to let me know before I read it in the newspaper.
‘He said she left during the night and the first thing he knew about it was when he found the front door ajar the next morning.
“He said Brenda had seemed normal the night before and hired the tea maid and everything seemed fine, but the next morning she was gone.” Two weeks later he visited her at home and attempted to have sex.
Pictured is the septic tank where Ms Venable’s remains were found in July 2019
The remains of Brenda Venables were discovered in a septic tank (circled) at the couple’s former home in Kempsey, Worcestershire, in July 2019
Ms. Styles explained, “I couldn’t understand why he was so calm the whole episode; he just sat and watched tv. Later (in) the evening he finally got around to making advances towards me and it was pretty obvious from his actions that he wanted me to have intercourse.
“With his wife’s disappearance and even my concern for Brenda, I turned down his advances.”
Their sexual relationship resumed a few weeks later, but by the fall of 1982 the spark was gone and she spotted Venables with another woman on his arm.
Venables had always insisted that on May 2, 1982, he simply woke up to find his wife gone.
But Trevor Brooks, who at the time ran a pig farm owned by Venables and his brother Peter, told the court that neither he nor his colleagues were asked to participate in the search, and further testimony said Brenda’s disappearance was “not mentioned” by Venables was subsequently.
The jury also heard that before her death, Brenda had become depressed over her husband’s “multiple affairs” and the fact that she was unable to conceive.
Mr Venables now lives in a bungalow about a mile from the farmhouse where the remains were found
Venables, 89, arrives at Worcester Crown Court on June 8, 2022
She had seen both her GP and a consulting psychiatrist to help her manage her mental health.
She reportedly told her psychiatrist Dr. Richards that she and her husband had not had sex and slept apart since 1969.
The court heard doctors were trying to make appointments to see the couple together, but Venables repeatedly said he was “too busy”.
According to a note read to the jury, he also blocked the attempt by Dr. Richards to take her to the hospital in the weeks leading up to her death.
The psychiatrist described Venables as a “typical farmer—showing little to no affection to his wife but showering praise on the family dog.”
When questioned by detectives after his wife’s remains were discovered, Venables insisted they had had a normal marriage and tried to blame serial killer Fred West for her death.
Police arrested Venables at his home in Kempsey in July 2019 shortly after his wife’s remains were discovered in the septic tank near their former home