Farmer charged with wife’s murder as remains found in septic tank 37 years later

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An 88-year-old farmer has appeared in court charged with murdering his wife after her remains were found in a septic tank 37 years after she disappeared.

David Venables is accused of killing his 48-year-old wife, Brenda Venables, after she went missing from the couple's then home in Bestmans Lane, Kempsey, Worcestershire.

Her remains were found in a septic tank at the property in July 2019 when it was drained for routine maintenance, after which West Mercia Police launched a murder investigation.

Following the shocking discovery, officers conducted searches at a bungalow in a quiet cul-de-sac in Kempsey the same month.

The police force quickly launched an "unexplained death" inquiry and linked it to the disappearance of the farmer's wife.

Last week, Venables was charged by the Crown Prosecution Service for the murder of Mrs Venables between May 2 and May 5 in 1982.

Mark Paul from the CPS said: "The decision to authorise the charge against the defendant was made after careful consideration of all the available evidence of this complex case and determining that a prosecution is required in the public interest."

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Appearing at Worcester Magistrates' Court on Tuesday morning in a hearing which lasted four minutes, he wore a tweed jacket, formal shirt and tie, glasses and a face mask, and kept his hands folded in his lap as he sat in the dock.

He spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth, address and that he understood proceedings.

Magistrates remanded Mr Venables into custody for a hearing later the same day at Birmingham Crown Court.

In May 1982, the Worcester Evening News ran a story about Mrs Venables going missing two days earlier from her home in Bestmans Lane.

The article confirmed that a police helicopter was used to search the banks of the nearby River Severn for the missing woman.

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