An 88-year-old man charged with murdering his wife, whose remains were found in a septic tank some 37 years after she disappeared, has been bailed for a trial next year.
David Venables is accused of killing 48-year-old Brenda Venables, who was reported missing from the couple’s then home in Bestmans Lane, Kempsey, Worcestershire, in 1982.
West Mercia Police launched a murder investigation after the find at the address in the village on July 12 2019.
Venables, of Elgar Drive, Kempsey, was charged by the Crown Prosecution Service last week with murdering Mrs Venables between May 2 and May 5 1982.
He appeared at Worcester Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday morning, before being remanded in custody to appear that afternoon at Birmingham Crown Court for a bail application.
Venables, who wore a tweed jacket, formal shirt and tie, glasses and a face mask, spoke only to confirm his name as he appeared before the Recorder of Birmingham, Judge Melbourne Inman QC, for a 15-minute hearing.
He was represented in court by barrister Adam Western, with Andrew Smith QC speaking on behalf of the Crown.
Judge Inman said: “It is obviously important that David Venables and everyone else understands what the timetable is and that’s the responsibility I have now.
“This is a case that normally would be heard at Worcester Crown Court and I’m sorry everybody has had to travel but there wasn’t a judge authorised to hear this, sitting at Worcester at present.
“The main reason this case has come before me is under a statutory requirement that I consider the question of bail or custody for Mr Venables, because of the nature of the charge.”
Granting a defence application for bail, Judge Inman set three conditions; that Mr Venables live and sleep at a nominated address, he make no application for a passport and that he have no contact with prosecution witnesses.
Venables will next appear at Worcester Crown Court for a plea and trial preparation hearing on September 7.
A trial, estimated to last four weeks, was provisionally set for July 25, 2022.
It is understood that Mrs Venables’ remains were discovered after the tank was drained during routine maintenance.
Following the find, officers from West Mercia Police carried out searches at a bungalow in a quiet cul-de-sac in Kempsey the same month.
The force launched an “unexplained death” inquiry and linked it to the disappearance of the farmer’s wife.
In May 1982, the Worcester Evening News ran a story about Mrs Venables going missing two days earlier from her home in Bestmans Lane.