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Necrophiliac David Fuller pleads guilty to murders of Wendy Knell and Caroline Pierce in Tunbridge Wells


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This is the moment necrophiliac David Fuller was caught three decades after murdering two women.

The 67-year-old, who had sex with at least 98 dead bodies, exclaims "oh blimey" as he opens the door of his family home to police as his wife slept upstairs at 5am on December 3 last year.

David Fuller is arrested

He then sat calmly as officers informed him he was being arrested for bludgeoning Wendy Knell and Caroline Pierce to death at their Tunbridge Wells flats in 1987.

Police then painstakingly searched his address and found a vile hoard of images and videos of the electrician abusing corpses at mortuaries he had access to.

Four hard drives were found concealed around the property and there were also detailed notes of each victim, including their names and dates of death.

In total there was evidence he had sex with 98 bodies, 78 of which have been identified. Three children were among his victims.

There was also 14 million indecent images and videos found.

Fuller today sensationally changed his plea to guilty mid-way through his Maidstone Crown Court trial.

Today the jury had heard how his DNA was found at the murder scenes but only linked to him three decades later via his brother.

David Fuller is arrested at his Heathfield home
David Fuller is arrested at his Heathfield home

On the first day of his trial the court heard he also had access to mortuaries while working at hospitals in the area.

"Evidence shows he had particular interest in the assault of dead women", prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said. "Following his arrest for the two killings in December 2020, the police undertook a painstaking search of his address.

"This uncovered his possession of a number of hard drives and hard copy images, carefully concealed and stored at his home, that showed that over an extended period of time he had used access his then job gave him to the mortuary of first the Kent and Sussex Hospital and then the Tunbridge Wells Hospitals."

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

In the loft of Fuller's semi-detached house approximately 250 storage boxes were found which included material dating back to the 1980s, including his diaries for 1986 and 1987.

"There officers found evidence in hard drives which contained a library of unimaginable sexual depravity.

"There were both photographs and videos which showed the defendant sexually abusing female corpses in the mortuaries of the two hospitals at which he worked, first the Kent and Sussex Hospital, where he worked full time from 1989, and then the Tunbridge Wells Hospital, to which he moved in 2010.

"The images and videos can be dated to a period that included his employment at both hospitals, and they show the defendant performing acts of sexual penetration on females of significantly varying ages.

"The defendant derived sexual gratification from spying on women. It is unlikely to be a coincidence that the defendant who derived gratification in that way was not involved in spying on women in a way that would have allowed him to identify first Wendy and then Caroline as objects of his sexual depravity."

Coverage of the Wendy Knell and Caroline Pierce murders in 1987 Scanned from Evening Post
Coverage of the Wendy Knell and Caroline Pierce murders in 1987 Scanned from Evening Post

The prosecutor told the jury: "This bizarre and depraved activity was not being adduced to revolt you, but to assist you in their assessment of the issues. It shows the defendant to derive sexual gratification from sexual activity with those who have died.

"They took place in the mortuaries on days when the defendant was scheduled to be working, and therefore had legitimate access with his swipe card, and towards the end of his shift when the regular mortuary staff had gone.

"CCTV from the mortuary area shows that when on camera he carried items or performed actions that would afford a legitimate explanation for his presence. He also used the camera to record personal details of his victims from mortuary logs and identification bracelets.

"He then uploaded the footage and images to those hard drives carefully concealed at his home, in what was in effect an indexed and systematic library of his obscene activities into folder and sub-folders."

Fuller also sexually abused the bodies of Wendy and Caroline.

The judge Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb QC had told the jury that at the end of the trial – which was expected to last two weeks – they would be offered counselling because of the nature of some of the evidence.

The judge added that they may find some of the evidence may induce strong emotions such as repulsion or anger.

Fuller – balding, bespectacled and wearing a black Covid mask – sat in the dock throughout the trial this week dressed in a grey track suit and bottoms.

He answered only to acknowledge his name and sat with his head down during the opening.

Read more on this trial:

Fuller, from Heathfield, had admitted killing Wendy and Caroline but denied murder; claiming manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

A trial began on Monday but four days in he sensationally changed his plea.

After the jury returned from lunch his barrister, Oliver Saxby QC, told the judge that a medical report meant he could no longer rely on the defence.

The murders became one of the UK's longest unsolved double homicide cases.

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.

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.

Sentence will now take place at a later date and Fuller was remanded in custody.

Caroline Pierce
Caroline Pierce
Wendy Knell Picture: Kent Police
Wendy Knell Picture: Kent Police

After today's pleas Libby Clark, of the CPS, 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.

'I am confident that our mortuary today is safe and secure. But I am determined to see if there are any lessons to be learned or systems to be improved.'

“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.”

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust chief executive Miles Scott apologised to families of victims and said an investigation had begun.

He said: “I want to say on behalf of the Trust, how shocked and appalled I am by the criminal activity by David Fuller in our hospital mortuary that has been revealed in court this week.

"And most importantly, I want to apologise to the families of those who’ve been the victims of these terrible crimes.

"We’ve been working with a team of specialist Police Family Liaison Officers to offer these families whatever help or assistance they may need.

Fuller worked at Tunbridge Wells Hospital. Picture: Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust
Fuller worked at Tunbridge Wells Hospital. Picture: Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust

"I am confident that our mortuary today is safe and secure. But I am determined to see if there are any lessons to be learned or systems to be improved.

"Sir Jonathan Michael – a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians – has been commissioned to independently chair an investigation into how this could have happened and to identify anything we could or should have done to avoid it.

"Sir Jonathan has begun work on his investigation and once completed I’ll be able to say more.

"I will ensure that staff at our hospitals are supported as they also process this shocking news.

"Our mortuary team have been particularly distressed to learn about what has been revealed over the course of this trial.

"My immediate priority, though, is to ensure the families of Fuller’s victims are given the time, space and privacy to come to terms with what they’ve learned – and that they receive all the care and support they need.”

To read more of our in depth coverage of all of the major trials coming out of crown and magistrates' courts across the county, click here.

For information on how we can report on court proceedings, click here.

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