Double murderer who sexually assaulted bodies in hospitals will die in jail

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A double murderer who sexually abused more than 100 dead women and girls in hospital mortuaries will never be released from prison.

David Fuller, 67, beat and strangled Wendy Knell, 25, and Caroline Pierce, 20, to death before sexually assaulting them in two separate attacks in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, in 1987.

He also filmed himself abusing at least 102 corpses, including a nine-year-old girl, two 16-year-olds, and a 100-year-old woman over 12 years before his arrest in December 2020.

He pleaded guilty to murdering Ms Knell and Ms Pierce days into his Maidstone Crown Court trial after previously admitting manslaughter by diminished responsibility.

He also pleaded guilty to 51 other offences, including 44 charges relating to 78 victims in mortuaries between 2008 and November 2020.

They included the sexual penetration of a corpse, possessing an extreme pornographic image involving sexual interference with a corpse and taking indecent images of children.

Fuller was handed a whole life sentence for the murders with a concurrent 12-year term for his other crimes.

Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb QC told Fuller he had spent 45 years living “an outwardly mild and ordinary life”

“You were described as a man who was good under pressure, while in seclusion you committed acts of the deepest darkness,” the judge said.

David Fuller court case
Caroline Pierce was killed in 1987 (Family/PA)

“The depravity of what you did reveals that your conscience is seared; calloused over.

“The sentence I am about to pass means you will spend every day of the rest of your life in prison.”

The Government has announced an independent inquiry into how Fuller went undetected and promised to look at the maximum sentence for necrophilia, which is currently two years in jail.

Ms Knell was found dead in her apartment in Guildford Road on June 23 1987 while Ms Pierce was snatched five months later on November 24 outside her home in Grosvenor Park.

David Fuller court case
Caroline Pierce was killed in Grosvenor Park, Tunbridge Wells (Kent Police/PA)

Fuller was arrested for what have been dubbed the “Bedsit Murders” on December 3 last year following new analysis of decades-old DNA evidence, which linked him to the killings.

Images of him attacking corpses were discovered when officers searched his three-bedroom semi-detached home in the town of Heathfield, East Sussex, where he lived with his family.

Police know the names of 82 of the victims but a further 20 have not been identified and may never be.

Fuller sat in the dock with his head bowed in court, which heard dozens of impact statements from the relatives of his victims.

The mother of the nine-year-old girl faced Fuller in court as she said she felt “guilt” for leaving her daughter in hospital.

She said: “I have nothing, no way of closure, how will I make it up to her? How will I stand by her side now, and how will I nurse that little body that has been ruined and disrespected by that vile man?

“I am standing up for her now in front of him.

David Fuller court case
Wendy Knell was murdered by David Fuller (Family/PA)

A statement from the family of the 100-year-old woman said: “My mother should have been safe at the mortuary and clearly she was not.

“She should never have had to have such an awful thing done to her.

“We have to live with this for the rest of our lives and I know we will all struggle with it.”

Oliver Saxby QC, defending, said: “He has caused untold pain and suffering to many, many people, and he knows it and he regrets that.”

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