Pensioner to face trial after pleading not guilty to murdering wife in 1982

A pensioner charged with killing his wife, whose remains were found in a septic tank 37 years after she disappeared, has pleaded not guilty to murder.

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.

Venables, 88, who appeared in the dock at Worcester Crown Court on Tuesday wearing a jacket and tie, spoke only to confirm his name and his not guilty plea to a single charge alleging that he murdered his wife “on a day between May 2 and May 5 1982”.

West Mercia Police launched a murder investigation in 2019 after human remains were found at an address in Kempsey on July 12, 2019.

David Venables court case
David Venables (Jacob King/PA)

Venables, of Elgar Drive, Kempsey, was charged earlier this year.

The pensioner, who was assisted during the hearing by a solicitor sitting outside the dock, will now face a trial starting in June next year.

Venables was bailed in June at Birmingham Crown Court, subject to a condition of residence and instructions not to apply for a passport or to contact prosecution witnesses.

Adjourning the case after the 20-minute hearing, the Recorder of Worcester, Judge James Burbidge QC, told Venables: “You may remain seated. Your case is going to be adjourned for trial on the charge of murder.

“You will be tried by a jury of 12 people at this Crown Court.

“That will take place on the 7th of June 2022. You will be released on bail on the same terms as you were released by the Recorder of Birmingham.”