Breaking KENT Sussex Tunbridge Wells

David Fuller, 67, previously from East Sussex pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court on 4 November 2021 to the murders of Wendy Knell and Caroline Pierce in 1987

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Fuller had previously also pleaded guilty to 51 further charges relating to sexual offences, including section 70 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, making and taking indecent images of children relating to three victims under section 1 of the Protection of Children Act 1978, possession of extreme pornographic images, making or possessing indecent images of children, possession of prohibited images of children and voyeurism.

 

Following the arrest of Fuller on 3 December 2020 for the two murders, the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate carried out searches at his home and found evidence of further offences. A thorough, complex and sensitive investigation ensued.

 

Fuller was charged on 4 December 2020 with the 1987 murders of Caroline Pierce and Wendy Knell, who were both from Tunbridge Wells. He was remanded in custody after appearing at Medway Magistrates Court on 5 December 2020.

 

He was charged with 44 offences relating to 78 deceased females including children under 18 and women over 85 years of age. 

 

Sexual offences against deceased females took place in a hospital mortuary setting in the Tunbridge Wells area between 2008 and 2020.  Officers have conducted extensive and sensitive enquiries, working closely with the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, and coroners who have assisted in providing information and facilitating access for searches that were carried out.

 

Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Fotheringham said: ‘Fuller used his role as an electrician at these two hospitals to carry out these heinous acts on deceased victims. Not only did he kill and assault two young innocent women in 1987, who should have had their whole lives in front of them, he then found another way to continue his horrific offending by assaulting and defiling multiple victims and traumatising their already grieving families in a way that is clearly beyond comprehension.

 

‘The evidence we presented was indisputable; at the very least the families of all the victims in these cases have been spared the additional burden of a trial.

 

‘This has been an incredibly complex and difficult investigation. It has been extremely important that the investigation remained impartial and independent, that respect was given to victims and their families, and information only released when appropriate to do so.

 

‘We know this is an extremely distressing time for anyone who feels that this may impact upon their loved ones who should have received the dignity they deserved in death.

 

‘We have worked diligently with the Health Trust, coronial services, and examined records including medical, to carry out the identification process for the victims.  This robust procedure has been scrutinised by senior police officers and staff, and a senior coroner’s officer.

 

‘Part of our enquiries has been to identify victims and we have found evidence of 100 victims, having worked through the vast majority of evidence. So far, we have been able to formally identify 81 of his victims in the mortuary. We have specially trained family liaison officers who have spoken to all the families of those we have identified to date. Dedicated and specialist welfare support services has been made available to those families. These specialist officers will speak directly and privately to all families of further victims we are able to identify as the investigation continues.

 

‘Unfortunately, this ongoing process is not a matter with which the public is able to assist. We have narrowed down the potential identification of some of the outstanding victims and our officers will make further enquiries in a sensitive and private manner to families whose loved ones were in the mortuary during the time period we have established they were there so that we can try and determine who they are.

 

‘Sadly, it is likely to be the case that some of the victims will never be identified. In these cases there is such limited information available to help us with establishing their identities, and there are no lines of enquiry outside of the investigation that can assist us.’

 

Noel McHugh, of the NCA’s Major Crime Investigative Support unit, said: ‘The NCA has provided extensive investigative support to this case since 2007 particularly around familial DNA.

 

‘The Agency is very proud to have helped Kent Police bring justice to the families of Wendy, Caroline and Fuller’s many other victims whom he deprived of dignity in death.

 

‘This was an utterly horrific case and the victims and their families are paramount in our thoughts.’

 

Any contact with Kent Police about these matters should be made via the UK Police Major Incident Public Reporting site, or to Kent Police on 0800 051 5270.

 

You can also call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or complete the anonymous online form.

 

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