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Pig farmer thought he’d got away with killing wife but one foolish mistake caught him

It only took one foolish mistake for the law to catch up with a “disgusting and repulsive” pig farmer who murdered his wife and hid her body for 37 years.

Evil David Venables, 89, killed his spouse Brenda in May 1982 and then dumped her body in the underground septic tank at their farm in Kempsey, Worcestershire.

The 48-year-old remained there for almost 40 years until maintenance workers found her skeletal remains while emptying the tank in 2019, and called police.

Today, High Court Judge Mrs Justice Tipples handed Venables a life sentence for murdering his wife, with the killer’s defence team saying he will “die in prison”.

Brenda’s body was only found five years after arrogant Venables sold his farm to his nephew in 2014.

The killer sold the property for more than £460,000 and bought himself a £300,000 bungalow in the village.

He had seemingly become so cocky he thought no-one would find her remains in the septic tank.

During his trial, Worcester Crown Court heard how the retired farmer killed his wife because he wanted her “out of the way” after he rekindled an affair with another woman.

Venables reported “Prim and Proper” Brenda missing on May 4, 1982 and posed as a heartbroken husband distraught at the disappearance of his wife.

But in reality, enables – nicknamed ‘Dirty Dave’ on account of his multiple affairs – had murdered Brenda so he could run off with his secret lover Lorraine Styles.

Speaking to a local newspaper at the time, he suggested Brenda might have taken her own life as she was suffering from depression after a recent bout of flu.

The shameless killer stuck to this story even after he was arrested for Brenda’s murder.

He told detectives his wife had been depressed and said she could have committed suicide by drowning herself in the sewage pit.

Venables also said he believed the notorious killer Fred West may have murdered Brenda.

However, his web of lies fell apart during a trial at Worcester Crown Court.

Lawyers representing the pensioner, who denied murder, said West had links to the village of Kempsey, where Brenda disappeared.

They also claimed she may have left her marital home at Quaking House Farm and “either killed herself or met with or encountered someone who wished her harm.”

However, the jury did not believe Venables and he was found guilty of murder by a 10-2 majority verdict last week.

Passing sentence on Venables, Judge Tipples said he had taken advantage of his wife’s depression to create a “carefully thought-out story” that she had left home in the middle of the night, apparently to take her own life.

She told the pensioner: “You killed Brenda Venables in her own home, where she was recuperating with an injured leg and suffering from depression. You were Brenda’s husband and she should have been able to trust you.

“Your complete lack of respect for Brenda is obvious from your decision to dispose of her body in the septic tank.

“The fact that is what you did with her body is disgusting and repulsive.”

Jurors heard Brenda had become depressed by her husband’s “multiple affairs” and the fact she was unable to conceive.

She visited her GP and a consultant psychiatrist to help her deal with her mental health and revealed she and Venables had not had sex since 1969.

Jurors heard Venables, who moved into the farm with Brenda after they married on June 1, 1960.

Brenda ran a nursery on the side while her husband had a piggery nearby on their 500 acres of land.

The jury heard Venables showed “little to no affection to his wife” preferring to “shower praise on the family dog”.

After killing Brenda, he stuffed her body in the cesspit in the garden of the house and covered the lid with a heavy concrete slab.

The court heard police failed to search the underground tank during their initial investigation into her disappearance in 1982.

In a statement, Brenda’s family said Venables had put them “through hell” by concealing her death for decades.

Her nieces and nephews added: “We’ll never know how she died or how much she suffered. We pray her death was quick.

“The torment of her body being found in the septic tank of her house will never leave us.

“It haunts our nights. We cannot come to terms with her being put in such a repulsive and shocking place.

“And then, by continuing to use the septic tank, her murderer dishonoured her dead body every day for 30 years after murdering her.”