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David Fuller sentencing: Necrophiliac jailed for life for murders of Wendy Knell and Caroline Pierce in Tunbridge Wells and having sex with bodies


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Additional reporting by Katie Heslop

A necrophiliac who murdered two women in the 1980s will die in prison.

David Fuller, 67, of Heathfield, has been given two whole-life orders for the murders of Wendy Knell and Caroline Pierce at their Tunbridge Wells homes in 1987.

The necrophiliac double murderer who also filmed himself having sex with at least 102 bodies was also sentenced to 12 years for 51 counts of abusing dead bodies which he will serve concurrently.

Judge Justice Bobbie Cheema-Grubb told Fuller: "You became a vulture picking your victims from among the dead within the hidden world of a hospital mortuary.

"Your conscience is seared and calloused over. The sentence I am about to apply means you will spend every day of the rest of your life in prison."

Footage of necrophiliac and murderer David Fuller at a hospital, which was seized by police
Footage of necrophiliac and murderer David Fuller at a hospital, which was seized by police

She explained that due to when the murders took place – before current law came in – she had to consider whether the home secretary at the time would have imposed a whole-life term. She said she was "in no doubt" they would.

Addressing the murders she told Fuller: "These were premeditated killings; carefully planned and executed. You were a 32-year-old prowler hanging around the locality where these women lived.

"You carried out sufficient reconnoitring to be in a position, I am sure to select your victims specifically, and to attack both of your victims shortly after they had reached their homes.

"I am also sure that each murder involved sexual conduct, most likely post-mortem.

"These facts together with what I have concluded is the primary spur for all the offending I have to sentence you for today, namely a deep-seated necromania exhibited in necrophilia convince me that these murders were sexually motivated. Once you had killed these women you spent time with their bodies satisfying your sexual deviancy.

Referencing the publicity that followed what became known as the 'Bedsit Murders', she said: "You are cunning and intelligent. I have no doubt at all that you were restrained from attacking more women in their homes because of these developments."

In reference to the offences committed in mortuaries she told Fuller: "Relatives of your victims told the court how their worlds have been made so

much darker because of your monstrous conduct. Despite this they have shone a light into court today by describing in loving words the special people they lost. They are haunted by your abuse, some reported to them years after they first had to cope with the death of their loved ones."

Maidstone Crown Court this morning heard impact statements from dozens of the victim's family members.

Caroline Pierce, left, and Wendy Knell, right. Picture: Kent Police
Caroline Pierce, left, and Wendy Knell, right. Picture: Kent Police

In a statement read to the court Wendy's mum Pamela said she had not been the same since June 22, 1987 when her body was found.

She had cut down everything in her garden "because it shouldn't be living" and would often find herself crying outside at 3am with no knowledge of how she got there.

Friends would cross the road to avoid her and she had given up caring about how her house looked. She said she still said goodnight and good morning to a picture of Wendy.

"Someone told me life starts at 50, for me life ended the," she said.

The court also heard statements from the families of the victims abused in mortuaries; the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters of women and girls as young as nine and as old as 100.

Among the victims were a Windrush-generation nurse who had met the Queen and Diana, an NHS worker and two siblings who had died in an accident.

The mother of Fuller's youngest victim addressed him directly, saying: "David, you know who I am because you read the letter I wrote to my baby."

She said she went to the mortuary to be with her daughter, who died of complications relating to the common cold, every day, including Christmas Day.

She'd dress her and brush her hair and leave toys for her to play with and a letter but when she left Fuller would enter the room and abuse her daughter.

She said he had tarnished those memories.

'She was dead, vulnerable and you preyed on her literally on the day she died. I've never been in such a dark place...'

She added: "I can’t say much of what I want to say to you. You raped my baby. She couldn’t say no to the dirty 66–year-old man who was abusing her body. I feel guilty I left her there.

"I will not enjoy my life again. Her death was unfair and heart breaking but it was a natural thing that I was starting to come to terms with. This unnatural sick pain I will never get over."

The daughter of Fuller's oldest victim said she'd had sleepless nights since finding out about the violation, adding: "It's like we have lost her all over again. My mother should have been safe in the mortuary and clearly she wasn't. We have to live with this for the rest of our lives and we will struggle with it."

The father of an 18-year-old girl who had autism and complex needs told the court the one comfort they had after her death was "how peaceful she looked when we left her", but Fuller destroyed that.

His wife hadn't left the house for the seven years since her death but they were "just getting back to life" when they were told what had happened.

"He has taken her innocence," he said.

Read more on this trial:

One victim's husband said: "David, when you're serving your time behind bars think very carefully about what you've done and thank your lucky stars I'm not sharing a cell with you."

The daughter of another victim said: "I didn't want her to go to the mortuary, I felt it was a cold place, but I was assured she would be safe.

"I know now this was not the case. You have proved in your depravity that monsters exist. You are the absolute worst of humanity, praying on those who could not fight back."

Azra Kemal, a law student who died after an accident and became one of Fuller's victims
Azra Kemal, a law student who died after an accident and became one of Fuller's victims

Nevres Kemal, the mother of victim Azra, said her focus was to increase the maximum jail term from two years for necrophilia offences. She called Fuller "insignificant" as she addressed the judge.

One victim's sister told the court it "breaks my heart that the last touch she felt was not a loving one."

"My sister never found peace in life, thanks to Fuller she did not find it in death either," she said.

Another victim's sister said: "His misogyny and perversion is breathtaking. He has robbed so many of dignity in death."

One victim's daughter said she was "numb and nauseous' when a policeman told her what had happened.

'My sister never found peace in life, thanks to Fuller she did not find it in death either...'

She said she couldn't find words for Fuller's "monstrous acts", "she was dead, vulnerable and you preyed on her literally on the day she died. I've never been in such a dark place."

Another, whose wife had died suddenly in his arms, said of Fuller's actions: "It's disgusting and sickening. It is a living hell. There have been many times I have thought I have nothing to live for."

A child of a woman defiled by Fuller, said of him: "He saw an opportunity, an opportunity to do the most deplorable act a living person could do and in doing so, stripped her of her dignity and safety."

In a statement read out by the prosecution from the husband of a woman violated by Fuller the court heard: "The last memory we have of my wife is that she looked at peace, she looked like an angel. Now you have taken that memory away, knowing what you did to her on the day she passed away.

"All we can imagine is what you, a repugnant evil monster, did to her, when she should have been at peace."

Throughout the day-long sentencing hearing Fuller, bespectacled and masked in a grey track suit and thinning hair, sat head bowed flanked by four dock officers.

He only looked up when addressed by the judge and families of the victims' directly, at one point nodding the acknowledge a comment made.

He was impassive as the whole-life terms were delivered and left the dock soon after.

Defending Oliver Saxby QC told the judge whole-life tariffs for crimes committed before 2003 were "the rarest of the rare".

He explained Fuller, who has previous convictions for multiple burglaries committed in the early 70s, had been diagnosed with autism by multiple experts since he was charged, although added this was not being highlighted in order to mitigate his offending.

David Fuller is arrested

Fuller, a former hospital electrician, was arrested at his family home in December last year, responding "oh blimey" as police knocked on his door at 5am.

But what officers found inside would transform the case into one of the most depraved in British history.

Four hard drives concealed behind a wardrobe "contained a library of unimaginable sexual depravity", Maidstone Crown Court was told.

In folders titled things like 'necrolord', 'deadliest' and 'best yet' here were 14 million indecent images, including videos of him abusing corpses at mortuaries at Kent and Sussex hospital, where he worked from 1989, and Tunbridge Wells, where he moved to in 2010.

He had used his legitimate access to commit the crimes against scores of victims, including three children, meticulously cataloguing many with details taken from name tags.

There was proof he'd searched for some on Facebook after the offences and a suggestion he'd researched one deceased woman before she was taken to a mortuary, although he denied this.

Fuller admitted the offences but at first denied the murders claiming diminished responsibility.

But he changed his plea mid-way through his trial in the wake of a report into his mental capacity.

The murders became one of the UK's longest unsolved double homicide cases until DNA found at the scenes was linked to Fuller via his brother three decades later.

Both women lived alone in ground-floor flats less than a mile apart in Tunbridge Wells and worked in the town - although they didn't know each other.

David Fuller while out on a cycle ride
David Fuller while out on a cycle ride

Wendy, 25, was found dead in her bloodstained bed on the morning of June 23, 1987.

Caroline, 20, went missing after being dropped off by a taxi outside her home on November 24 that year. Her body was discovered in a flooded culvert 40 miles away on Romney Marsh weeks later.

Fuller also sexually abused their bodies.

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