A man has been found guilty of murdering his wife 40 years ago in Kempsey, Worcestershire.

David Venables, 89, of Elgar Drive, Kempsey, was found guilty today (Friday 15 July) at Worcester Crown Court.

He will be sentenced on Wednesday 20 July at 2pm.

In May 1982 Venables reported his 48-year-old wife Brenda missing.

A missing person investigation was launched by West Mercia Police, which included searches of the local area, including the river.

The case continued as a missing person inquiry until July 2019 when routine maintenance of the septic house at the Kempsey home where the couple had lived uncovered human remains.

A murder investigation was launched and, through DNA testing, the remains were identified as Brenda. Due to the condition of Brenda’s remains, the cause of her death was unable to be established.

During the five-week trial, the court heard that the couple were in an unhappy marriage and outlined the 14-year affair he had with another woman.

It was found that, between 3 and 5 May 1982, David killed Brenda and hid her body in the septic tank before reporting her missing.

Speaking after the verdict today Brenda’s nieces and nephews said: “We are relieved that today, after a wait of 40 years, at last there is justice for Brenda. Venables can no longer get away with having murdered his wife, the hiding of her body, and all his deceit, lies and fabrications.”

They spoke of their wish that Brenda had been able to leave the marriage and emphasised that there are “good people are out there, who can and will help” those who are subjected to domestic abuse. They highlighted Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline and West Mercia Police’s Victim Advice Line.

They also expressed their sincere 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.”

Speaking on behalf of West Mercia Police following today’s guilty verdict Detective Sergeant James Beard said: “We very much welcome the verdict and that justice has now been done.

“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.”