Pig farmer, 89, who murdered wife was known as 'Dirty David' by locals

Pig farmer, 89, who murdered wife was known as 'Dirty David' by locals

July 16, 2022

Pig farmer, 89, who murdered his wife and dumped her body in a septic tank so he could pursue an affair was known as ‘Dirty David’ by locals because he slept with so many mistresses

  • David Venables murdered wife Brenda and put her body into septic tank at their home, Quaking House Farm
  • The pig farmer killed his wife so he could pursue affairs with other women, including the carer for his mother
  • Venables tried to blame Fred West for the murder but was convicted by a 10-2 majority verdict this afternoon
  • Brenda’s family say they are still ‘haunted’ by her death and hit out Venables’ ‘repugnant attitude to women’
  • Venables became known locally as ‘Dirty David’, with a former farm hand saying’ everyone knew’ about affairs 

A pig farmer who murdered his wife and dumped her body in a septic tank so he could have an affair with another woman was known locally as ‘Dirty David’ because he slept with so many mistresses.

David Venables, 89, was convicted of murder following a month-long trial on Friday, decades after killing wife Brenda, then 48, at their home in Kempsey, Worcestershire, in May 1982.

Police had originally treated Brenda’s disappearance as a missing person inquiry and never searched the tank, but finally found her skull and other bones when a cesspit was drained in 2019 by Andrew Venables, who had bought the farm from his uncle.

David Venables, 89, (pictured in a mug shot released on Friday) murdered his wife Brenda and put her body into the septic tank of their marital home in May 1982

Venables had begun a series of affairs with other women throughout the marriage and the court heard how he ‘wanted his wife out the way’ so he could resume a long-standing sexual relationship with another woman named Lorraine Styles, who had a carer for his mother.

He also bragged about his affairs, leading to workers on his 440-acre pig farm to refer to him as  ‘Dirty David’, The Mirror reports.

One former farm hand told the newspaper: ‘It was all a long time ago, but those of us who were around back then remember David well. He was a ladies man and clearly wasn’t the sort of guy who was happy settling for just the one lady.

‘Poor Brenda had her problems. She was an old-fashioned housewife-type and desperately wanted children. For whatever reason, it didn’t happen for them. I think it ruined their marriage and led to David playing away from home.

‘Everyone knew about Lorraine, they’d been at it for years. But honestly, she wasn’t the only one. It was different times back then, men thought they could have any woman they wanted, even if they were married.’

Ms Styles died in 2017, but in a statement given to detectives in 1984, she revealed details of their affair and how Venables had reacted after his wife’s disappearance.

She described how his wife had been ‘betrayed by his adultery and numerous affairs’.

Two weeks after her disappearance later, he called round at Ms Styles’ house and tried to have sex.

Ms Styles stated: ‘I couldn’t understand why he was so calm about the whole episode; he just sat and watched the television. Later (in) the evening he eventually got round to making advances towards me and it was quite obvious from his actions that he wanted me to have intercourse.

‘In view of his wife’s disappearance and that even I was concerned for Brenda I refused his advances.’ 

Their sexual relationship resumed a few weeks later but by the Autumn 1982 the spark had gone and she spotted Venables with another woman on his arm.

Mrs Venables  was killed by her husband in May 1982. Here she is pictured in the garden of Quaking House Farm, Kempsey, Worcestershire, where her body was found

An aerial photo of the septic tank (circled) at the couple’s former home in Kempsey, Worcestershire in July 2019, where Mrs Venables’ remains were found

Venables (pictured yesterday) remained composed but blinked several times after hearing the guilty verdict and then stared back towards the jury bench

It comes as the family of Ms Venables today said they are  ‘haunted’ by her death.

Relatives of Brenda Venables say her husband has  put them ‘through hell’ after being found guilty of her murder.

He was convicted by a 10-2 majority verdict today after the jury of seven men and five women deliberated for 16 hours and 43 minutes over four days.

Now Brenda’s family have released a heartfelt statement paying tribute to her and revealing their ‘utter horror and despair’ at her murder.

They hit out at her killer’s ‘repugnant attitude to women’ and expressed sorrow that the ‘gentle’ woman became ‘increasingly cut off from her friends and family’ during her marriage with him.

Venables, who was required to sit in the dock after previously being allowed to sit beside his legal team, remained composed but blinked several times after hearing the guilty verdict and then stared back towards the jury bench.

Trial judge Mrs Justice Tipples described the facts of the case as ‘tragic’ as she advised jurors they could seek support if they had been affected by the harrowing evidence.  

During the pensioner’s month-long trial, Venables’ legal team said Fred West had links to the Worcestershire village of Kempsey, where Brenda disappeared in May 1982.

They also claimed Mrs Venables may have left her marital home at Quaking House Farm and ‘either killed herself or met with or encountered someone who wished her harm.’ 

Dismissing Venables’ defence as preposterous, Michael Burrows QC told the trial: ‘The truth, say the prosecution, is that it was David Venables who killed her.

‘He wanted her out of the way – he wanted to resume his long-standing affair with another woman, Lorraine Styles.

‘He knew about the septic tank in its secluded location. It was for him almost the perfect hiding place.

‘It meant he didn’t have to travel and risk being seen making a suspicious journey around the time of her disappearance or risk being seen disposing of her body somewhere else.

‘And, of course, even if someone did think to look inside the tank, her body would be hidden from view. And for nearly 40 years, it was the perfect place and he got away with murder.’

The court heard how the Venables first met at a Worcester and Kidderminster Young Farmers club social in 1957 when he was 25 and she was 23.

They married in Brenda’s local parish church in Rushock in 1960 and the following year moved into Quaking House Farm, built by Venables on land gifted to him by his father, and boasting ‘magnificent views’ of the surrounding countryside.

But by the end of the decade their marriage was in difficulties.

They had no children, a situation that distressed Brenda, according to her friend Vicky Jennings, and Venables had begun a series of affairs with other women.

Pictured is the septic tank where Mrs Venable’s remains were found in July 2019. Her disappearance in 1982 was treated as a missing person enquiry

Ms Styles said Venables had offered to bring a catering-sized pork pie to help with refreshments at her daughter’s 21st birthday party but a week before the bash had rung to say his wife had gone missing.

Her statement said: ‘He seemed quite composed and suddenly told me that his wife had disappeared the day before and that he was phoning to let me know before I read it in the paper.

‘He said that she had gone in the night and the first he knew was when he discovered the front door open the following morning.

‘He said that Brenda had seemed quite normal the night before and had set the Teasmaid and everything seemed alright, but the following morning she had disappeared.’

Two weeks later, she told detectives of the incident in which he had called round at her house and tried to have sex.

Their relationship ended in 1982 when Venables had moved onto another woman. 

A handout photo of Brenda Venables, 48, whose remains were found in 2019 in a septic tank outside the home she shared with David Venables – 37 years after she disappeared

Venables had always insisted that he had simply woken up on May 2, 1982 to find his wife had disappeared.

But Trevor Brooks, who then ran a piggery owned by Venables and his brother Peter, told the court that neither he nor his colleagues were asked to join in the search, and further witness statements said there was ‘no mention’ of Brenda’s disappearance by Venables in the aftermath.

The jury also heard that before her death, Brenda had become depressed by her husband’s ‘multiple affairs’ and the fact she had been unable to conceive.

She had visited both her GP and a consultant psychiatrist to help her deal with her mental health. 

She reportedly told her psychiatrist Dr Richards, that she and her husband had not had sex since 1969 and were sleeping separately.

The court heard doctors tried to make appointments to see the couple together, but Venables repeatedly said he was ‘too busy’. 

According to a note read to the jury, he also blocked Dr Richards’ attempt to have her hospitalised in the weeks before her death.

The psychiatrist described Venables as a ”typical farmer – displaying little to no affection to his wife, but showering praise on the family dog’. 

Venables, 89, pictured leaving his home for an appearance at Worcester Crown Court on June 8, 2022. He has since been found guilty of murder

Mr Venables, now 89, sold the farmhouse where the remains were found to a relative and moved to a bungalow nearby in the 2000s

In a statement, Brenda’s family said: ‘We feel utter horror and despair that Brenda was murdered.

‘She was no harm to anyone, being a gentle and increasingly quiet woman. 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.

‘Venables robbed Brenda of the second half of her life and robbed her of any dignity in death.

‘By concealing Brenda’s remains, he made her family live through the hell of not knowing what had happened to her, and robbed the family of the opportunity to bury Brenda for over 37 years. In that time, many close family members have died.

‘Other women were hurt by Venables’ shockingly repugnant attitude to women. Brenda knew about his affairs during their marriage.’

Her family also made a thinly veiled criticism of the police at the time of her disappearance.

They added: ‘In 1982 the attitude to missing women was different. In this case, Brenda’s husband was seen as her keeper.

‘There was no murder inquiry for 37 years, just a missing person investigation.

‘The details of this case have highlighted substantial progress in those 40 years, both in the professionalism, practices and methods of police investigations, and societal attitudes to women.

‘We wish that Brenda had been able to leave her marriage. Her suffering and sadness must have been great as her life with Venables became more and more miserable.

‘She was betrayed by his adultery and numerous affairs.

Police arrested Venables at his home in Kempsey in July 2019, shortly after his wife’s remains were discovered in the septic tank near their former home

‘She was increasingly cut off from her friends and family. In those later years, her life was narrowly focussed on housework.

‘Venables’ control of her was absolute by the end, refusing her medical treatment in hospital and controlling every aspect of her life.

‘Coercive control was not a term used or understood in the 1970s and early 80s. We wish we had sensitively asked her about how life was for her.’

The family expressed their thanks to the ‘many people who have worked hard over the last three years to bring about justice for Brenda’, stating: ‘Thank you to the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, homicide support, the witnesses in this case, the barristers, the jury, the judge, and all the staff at Worcester Crown Court for all your time and effort leading up to today’s conclusion.

‘Our heartfelt thanks to the member of the public who found her remains three years ago. And thank you to our family and friends for your support and understanding as the search for justice for Brenda increasingly took over our lives in the last three years.’ 

Detective Sergeant James Beard, of West Mercia Police, said: ‘The terrible truth is that Brenda was killed by the person who was meant to care for her most.

‘He then let her family and friends go for so long not knowing what happened to her; they were robbed of a sister and auntie, and left without closure for 40 years.

‘We cannot begin to imagine the pain that must have caused them and I’d like to commend them for the courage and dignity they have shown throughout the investigation and the court proceedings.’ 

Venables is expected to be sentenced next week. 

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