‘Sick and twisted’ Bedsit Killer sentenced for necrophilia

David Fuller is already serving a whole life sentence for the sexually motivated murders of Wendy Knell and Caroline Pierce in Kent in 1987.

David Fuller
David Fuller

A double killer who sexually abused the bodies of at least 101 women and girls in hospital mortuaries was branded “sick and twisted” by victims’ families as he was sentenced for further depraved acts.

David Fuller, 68, is already serving a whole life sentence for the sexually motivated murders of Wendy Knell, 25, and Caroline Pierce, 20, in two separate attacks in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, in 1987.

After being linked to the murders in 2020, police uncovered the systematic sexual abuse of the corpses of females aged between nine and 100 at the now-closed Kent and Sussex Hospital and the Tunbridge Wells Hospital, in Pembury, where he had worked in maintenance since 1989.

David Fuller court case
David Fuller beat and strangled Wendy Knell to death before sexually assaulting her in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, in 1987 (Kent Police/PA)

An examination of Fuller’s computer hard drive at his home in Heathfield, East Sussex, revealed 818,051 images and 504 videos of his abuse as well as evidence of his “persistent interest in rape, abuse and murder of women”.

Last year, Fuller pleaded guilty to the two murders and 44 charges relating to 78 females between 2008 and November 2020.

On Wednesday, he was sentenced to a further four years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually abusing the bodies of 23 more women aged between 45 and 92, 10 of whom have never been identified.

They include 12 counts of sexual penetration of a corpse and four counts of possession of extreme pornography between 2007 and 2020.

During the sentencing hearing at the Old Bailey, relatives of some of the victims expressed their anger and devastation.

The daughter of a ward sister who was abused after her death spoke in court of her “absolute disgust” at Fuller’s actions, describing him as a “monster”.

She said her mother did not want to die in hospital and the family declined a post-mortem examination because she had been subjected to enough “prodding and poking” during her illness.

On finding out about the abuse, she said: “The pain and emotional upset seared through my body like a knife.

“He took advantage of her helplessness in death where we were unable to protect her.”

Addressing the defendant in the dock, she said: “David, I want you to know how much damage you have caused, how your sick and twisted behaviour has damaged families like mine.

“I’m pleased you are now being held accountable for what you did only seven hours after she died.”

A father said he could not put into words how “disturbing” it was to find out what happened to his daughter at Fuller’s hands.

The brother of another victim said: “He has caused complete and utter devastation.

“David Fuller has tainted every single memory I have of my sister. All I can think of is what he did to my sister when she was supposed to be resting.”

In mitigation, Catherine Donnelly accepted that Fuller’s offences had caused profound harm to a “significant” number of people.

In a televised sentencing, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb handed Fuller four more years’ custody, but added: “You will remain in prison until your death.”

She said Fuller had first worked at the Kent and Sussex Hospital from 1989 and then as a maintenance supervisor at the nearby Pembury hospital until his arrest for the murders.

She told him: “I have no doubt that you were wary of the risk of attempting to commit sexual offences which might be detected due to the atmosphere of public alertness in the Tunbridge Wells area after what became known as the Bedsit Murders.

“This employment gave you access to the areas normally out of bounds to the public. You would pass through security by using your swipe card when mortuary staff went home from work.

“You were free to systematically and relentlessly sexually abuse the bodies of at least 101 women and girls, the youngest just nine and the oldest 100 years before her death.”

She said some of the women were abused very soon after death, some even before their loved ones had visited them in the mortuary.

The judge said Fuller was never “disturbed or challenged” during the offending which amounted to a “habitual” breach of trust and invasion of privacy for his own sexual gratification.

She told him: “You have no regard for the dignity of the dead.”

Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb highlighted the victims’ achievements in life, saying that one was a talented skier, one worked at Bletchley Park during the Second World War, and others had worked as teachers or in the NHS.

She told Fuller: “You spent years living a lie, the façade of a mild and ordinary life, while in seclusion you committed revolting and outrageous acts of the deepest darkness. You have a family who you deceived over all those years.
“The depravity of what you did, to those you killed and those you defiled after death, reveals that your conscience is seared.

“It is almost impossible to believe that a single man can cause the misery, to so many, that you have done. But you did it and in consequence you are paying the price that human justice can exact, the rest of your mortal life in prison.”

David Fuller court case
Caroline Pierce was attacked by David Fuller outside her home in Tunbridge Wells (Kent Police/PA)

Fuller sat impassively in the dock throughout the hearing and did not react to calls of “Scum” from the public gallery as he was sent down.

Speaking outside court, Detective Superintendent Ivan Beasley said: “Our absolute and unequivocal priority from day one has been ensuring justice for every single victim violated by Fuller’s systematic and unimaginably depraved offending.

“Today’s sentencing will mean little to this abhorrent individual, who throughout our investigation has demonstrated no remorse and only a capacity for self pity.

“His crimes have led to immeasurable suffering and inconceivable trauma to the lives of hundreds of daughters, sons, parents and other loved ones of all those he abused.”

The officer said no stone had been left unturned in investigating Fuller’s crimes spanning more than 40 years, adding there was no evidence he had committed further mortuary offences.

The Government has launched an independent inquiry into how Fuller went undetected until he was arrested on December 3 2020 for what have been dubbed the Bedsit Murders following new analysis of decades-old DNA evidence.

A report on the hospital trust is expected to be published next year.

Last month, it was announced that more than 90 family members whose loved ones were defiled by Fuller will receive compensation of up to £25,000.

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