04 November 2021

Man admits killing two women in 1987

04 November 2021

An electrician has admitted murdering two women in 1987, police confirmed.

David Fuller, 67, pleaded guilty to murdering Wendy Knell, 25, and Caroline Pierce, 20, in two separate attacks in Tunbridge Wells, Kent Police confirmed.

The 67-year-old changed his pleas on Thursday, part way through his trial at Maidstone Crown Court which heard he had sexually assaulted the two women after killing them.

He had admitted killing the two women but originally pleaded not guilty to murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

His trial heard he also sexually assaulted women’s corpses in the mortuaries at Kent and Sussex Hospital and Tunbridge Wells Hospital while working there.

Ms Knell was found dead in her apartment in Guildford Road on June 23, 1987.

Caroline Pierce, 20 from Tunbridge Wells, who died following an attack outside her home in Grosvenor Park (Family handout/PA) (PA Media)

Her body showed signs of blunt force trauma to the head, asphyxiation to the neck, and sexual assault after her death, the court heard.

Ms Pierce was killed five months later outside her home in Grosvenor Park, on November 24 of the same year.

Neighbours described hearing screams from Ms Pierce’s flat on the night in question, the court heard on Monday.

She was then reported missing, and there was no sign of her in her flat.

Her naked body was later discovered in a water-filled dyke at St Mary-in-the-Marsh on December 15, 1987.

DNA evidence from both women’s bodies linked Fuller to their killings.

There were reports of “prowler activity” in the lead-up to both women’s deaths, with locals reporting a voyeur looking through their windows.

Fuller was arrested for murder on December 3 last year following new analysis of decades-old DNA evidence, and officers searched his home.

There they found images of dead women at the two hospital mortuaries being abused by Fuller, prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said on Monday.

Officers then found four hard drives with five terabytes of data storage in total attached to the back of a cupboard.

Wendy Knell, 25, from Tunbridge Wells who was found dead in her ground-floor bedsit in Guildford Road on June 23 1987 after failing to turn up for work (Family handout/PA) (PA Media)

“When these hard drives were examined, they were found to contain a library of unimaginable sexual depravity”, Mr Atkinson QC said.

“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”, he said.

The court heard that the images show Fuller performing acts of sexual penetration on women of “significantly varying” ages.

In a police interview, Fuller admitted to using Facebook to search for photos of the people he abused in the mortuary.

In relation to identifying and naming the files containing images of his offending against dead people, he said that he had gone back to name them at a later stage, using the ledgers from the mortuary and identification tags on the bodies, Mr Atkinson QC said.

He added: “He admitted to searching for them on the internet, including on Facebook. He claimed that this would be after the offending, rather than research before offending.”

Mr Atkinson QC said these images provided evidence that Fuller committed the acts out of “sexual gratification” and not mental illness.

“It shows the defendant to derive sexual gratification from sexual activity with those who have died,” he said.

He added: “It therefore provides a reason for the killings, however deviant and repellent, that does not depend on an explanation of mental illness that deprived the defendant of his self-control.”

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