‘Bedsit killer’ who had sex with corpses in mortuaries admits murdering two women

A former hospital electrician who sexually assaulted corpses in mortuaries where he worked has pleaded guilty to the murders of two women in 1987.

David Fuller, 67, a married father from Heathfield, East Sussex, admitted murdering Wendy Knell, 20, and 25-year-old Caroline Pierce five months apart in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, more than 30 years ago.

Fuller had previously admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, but had denied murder.

But on Thursday during the fourth day of his trial at Maidstone Crown Court, he changed his plea and admitted the murders.

He had been linked to the deaths following a breakthrough in DNA techniques. 

Ms Knell was found dead in her bedsit in Guildford Road, Tunbridge Wells on June 23 1987. Ms Pierce was killed five months later after being abducted outside her home in Grosvenor Park in the town. Her naked body was discovered in a water-filled dyke at St Mary-in-the-Marsh in Romney, Kent, on December 15 1987.

Ms Knell and Ms Pierce’s deaths – dubbed the ‘bedsit murders’ – became one of the UK’s longest unsolved double homicide cases.

The murder trial had been expected to last for two weeks., but when the court reconvened on Tursday afternoon, Oliver Saxby QC informed the judge, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb that Fuller should be rearraigned.

He said: "We form the view he no longer has a viable defence to either count, which Mr Fuller has accepted."

The jury of eight women and four men was thanked for its service on what the judge described as ‘an unusual case with unspeakable aspects’. 

The mortuary offences, whereby Fuller subjected dozens of female corpses of all ages to sexual penetration, carry a maximum of just two years’ imprisonment.

Prosecutor Duncan Aitkinson QC said police were still in the process of ‘a very difficult task’ of helping the families of those victims to prepare statements detailing the impact of such crimes against their loved ones for the sentencing hearing.

Following his arrest in December, police uncovered hard drives and images hidden at his home which showed that over "an extended period of time" he used his access to the mortuary "to carry out acts of sexual penetration of female corpses".

The full scale of Fuller’s offending in the mortuary can now be revealed.

He had previously admitted 51 further sexual offences, including 44 counts relating to the 78 identifiable mortuary victims. 

Police had evidence of 98 corpses having been violated but despite their best efforts, they were unable to identify 20 of the victims.

He admitted the mortuary offences, but denied he had done it for sexual gratification.

The court also heard that there was some evidence to suggest Miss Pierce and Miss Knell may have been sexually assaulted after they were killed,

Fuller, a father who has been married three times, now faces a likely who life tariff when he is sentenced for the double murder.

Libby Clark, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “David Fuller’s deeply distressing crimes are unlike any other I have encountered in my career and unprecedented in British legal history.

“This highly dangerous man has inflicted unimaginable suffering on countless families and he has only admitted his long-held secrets when confronted with overwhelming evidence.

“Fuller, with his uncontrolled sense of sexual entitlement, treated Wendy Knell and Caroline Pierce with extreme depravity. Both women were simply at home or returning from work when he ambushed them.

“Their families never gave up on achieving justice even when all hope seemed lost. My thoughts are with them today and all the families of women and girls whose lives have been cut short by senseless violence.

“Fuller’s appalling crimes did not end with these killings and he went on to abuse his position of trust as a hospital electrician in the most grotesque manner imaginable.

“No British court has ever seen abuse on this scale against the dead before and I have no doubt he would still be offending to this day had it not been for this painstaking investigation and prosecution.”

 

 

 

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