UK pig farmer (89) ‘got away with murder of wife’ for almost 40 years, court told

David Venables is accused of dumping Brenda Venables in a septic tank before rekindling a ‘long-standing affair’

An retired pig farmer (89) “got away with murder” for nearly 40 years after dumping his wife in a septic tank before rekindling a “long-standing affair”, a court heard.

David Venables is alleged to have killed Brenda Venables in 1982. Her remains were discovered in the underground chamber, in what was once a “rough”, overgrown and “secluded ” spot, 37 years after she vanished, prosecutors said.

Michael Burrows QC, opening the prosecution case at Worcester Crown Court on Monday, said Mr Venables had been in an on-off relationship with his mother’s former carer Lorraine Styles in the run-up to his wife’s disappearance.

The Crown alleged Venables, then 49, killed his wife (48) and dumped her body in a septic tank in the grounds of “remote” Quaking House Farm, off Bestmans Lane, Kempsey, Worcestershire, where the couple had lived since 1961.


Mr Burrows said: “The truth, say the prosecution, is that it was David Venables who killed her.

“He wanted her out of the way. He wanted to resume his long-standing affair with another woman. He knew about the septic tank in its secluded location. It was for him almost the perfect hiding place.”

He added: “And for nearly 40 years, it was the perfect place and he got away with murder.”

The jury heard Venables’s affair with Ms Styles started “around 1967”. Mr Burrows said that by 1981, Ms Styles had “doubts again about David Venables’s feelings for her”, but the farm owner rekindled the affair over New Year, months before his wife vanished.

The Crown’s QC alleged Venables then saw Ms Styles two weeks after the disappearance, with the affair only ending that winter.

Jurors heard Venables reported his wife missing at Worcester police station May 4th, 1982, after prompting from family friend Vicky Jennings. She had visited on May 3rd, when Mr Venables told of waking to find the front door open and his wife gone.

Ms Jennings said Mr Venables “did not seem overly concerned”, and while searching nearby land “didn’t appear . . . to be actively searching for his wife”. Police inquiries failed to find Mrs Venables, while “some people thought she had committed suicide”

Her remains were discovered 37 years after she went missing, after Mr Venables sold his house on Quaking House Farm to his nephew, who had the septic tank emptied in 2019.

After Venables sold the farmhouse in 2014, “small bones” thought to be a dog’s were found during routine cleaning of the septic tank.

But in July 2019, engineer Alistair Pitt found a “large clump of hair” and then spotted what he thought was a big stone in the bottom of the tank. “He used the hoe to turn it over and saw it was a human skull,” said Mr Burrows.

Remains including the pelvis and thigh bones were also recovered – though it was impossible to determine cause of death – and DNA tests showed they belonged to Mrs Venables.

Remnants of clothing including half a pair of knickers, a pair of tights, a bra, remains of some shoes and a sweater were also found.

Mr Burrows said it was “beyond belief” Mrs Venables “took her own life by climbing into the septic tank” before replacing the lid.

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