'Morgue monster' double killer who sexually assaulted corpses to die behind bars

15 December 2021, 15:08 | Updated: 15 December 2021, 16:34

David Fuller has been sentenced to life imprisonment.
David Fuller has been sentenced to life imprisonment. Picture: Kent Police

By Will Taylor

A murderer who sexually abused more than 100 female corpses will die in jail.

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David Fuller has been given a whole life sentence for charges including the murder of two women in the 1980s.

The 67-year-old 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 pleaded guilty to murdering the pair days into his Maidstone Crown Court trial after previously admitting manslaughter by diminished responsibility.

The judge also sentenced him to 12 years in prison for 51 other offences, to be served concurrently with the whole-life terms for murder.

It comes after he pleaded guilty to the 51 offences, including 44 charges relating to 78 victims in mortuaries between 2008 and November 2020.

He 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.

Beginning her sentencing remarks, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb QC ordered Fuller to stand and said: "You have spent the last 45 years living an outwardly mild and ordinary life.

"You were described as a man good under pressure while in seclusion you committed acts of the deepest darkness.

Court artist sketch of Fuller previously appearing via video link at Maidstone Crown Court.
Court artist sketch of Fuller previously appearing via video link at Maidstone Crown Court. Picture: Alamy

"You became a vulture, picking your victims from among the dead within the hidden world of hospital mortuaries which you were free to inhabit simply because you had a swipe card.

"The depravity of what you did reveals your conscience is seared.

"You will spend every day of the rest of your life in prison."

She added: "The offences committed in the mortuaries involved an astonishing breach of trust and invasion of privacy, that was repeated so much that it became habitual.

"You had no regard for the dignity of the dead."

Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb QC went on to say: "You have lately expressed regret for your crimes.

"But I see no evidence whatsoever that this is real repentance for your deeds, rather than a hollow gesture at a time when you are under public scrutiny."

It came as Oliver Saxby QC, defending, had said: "He has caused untold pain and suffering to many, many people, and he knows it and he regrets that."

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.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: "This is a profoundly distressing case. While nothing can undo the damage that has been done, David Fuller has today been brought to justice for his unspeakable crimes.

"I would like to reiterate my apologies to the friends and families of all the victims for what took place. We are taking action to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.

"First, NHS England and Improvement have received assurance from all NHS Trusts that they have undertaken risk assessments on their mortuary and body storage facilities, and checked their practices are in line with existing Human Tissue Authority guidance.

"Second, we have made good progress in establishing the independent inquiry. The chair, Sir Jonathan Michael, has developed draft terms of reference and will engage with families on them in the new year before they are published. 

"Third, Ministers have received initial advice from the Human Tissue Authority on the current regulatory framework, which I will be reviewing carefully.

"Finally, families have quite understandably approached the Trust seeking compensation. I have asked NHS Resolution to work with the Trust and engage with families."

In a statement on Twitter, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "Nothing can undo the pain caused by David Fuller's unimaginable crimes, but I hope some comfort can be taken from the fact he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

"My thoughts are with the family and friends of his victims, who have shown incredible bravery in court today."

Kent Police Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Fotheringham said: "I sincerely hope that today's sentencing will provide some form of closure or comfort to all those who have been affected by his heinous actions, knowing at least that Fuller will spend the rest of his life in prison."