'He lied his way into our lives': Daughter of murdered millionaire couple says IT worker 'completely brainwashed' mother

22 March 2024, 13:31 | Updated: 22 March 2024, 13:43

Luke D'Wit was sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday
Luke D'Wit was sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday. Picture: Essex Police

By Emma Soteriou

The "manipulative" IT worker who murdered married couple Stephen and Carol Baxter "lied his way" into the family and "completely brainwashed" them, the victims' daughter has said.

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Luke D'Wit, 34, who befriended and worked for Mr and Mrs Baxter, was jailed for life after poisoning them with opioid painkiller fentanyl.

He created seven fake online personas, "each with extra people, family members as well", to manipulate them before he killed them.

He also changed their will in an effort to get his hands on the millionaire couple's shower mat fortune.

The personas he created included a doctor from Florida and members of a fake support group for the thyroid condition Hashimoto's, which Mrs Baxter suffered from.

Ellie Baxter said her mother "felt so alone" as she lost her function in the two years before her death.

"I tried to push her to go to the doctor's, which she did but she was completely brainwashed by Dr Andrea Bowden," Ellie Baxter said, reading her victim impact statement at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday.

Read more: IT worker who murdered millionaire couple with fentanyl before altering their will jailed for life

Read more: IT worker guilty of murdering millionaire married couple with fentanyl before altering their will

Ellie and Harry Baxter
Ellie and Harry Baxter. Picture: Alamy

She continued: "Luke D'Wit, who was behind the persona Dr Andrea Bowden, thought sending videos of my mum for Andrea to see would be a good idea.

"But in reality Luke just wanted to see and watch the outcome of his twisted, abominable actions.

"Sometimes even filming my mum himself and laughing."

Ms Baxter described D'Wit as a "man so manipulative he hacked his way into our lives over a decade ago, schemed and thoroughly planned my parents' demise".

She said her parents had "looked after Luke", adding: "They just decided he was lonely, especially after Luke's dad died. "They took him under their wing and would let him join in."

The couple in their 60s were found dead by their daughter at their home in West Mersea in Essex.

Describing the moment she found them dead, Ms Baxter said: "I have never known an emotional pain to physically hurt so much.

"It was like my insides were on fire. I screamed and I screamed."

D'Wit, of West Mersea, arrived soon after and described himself as a "friend" to a 999 call handler, before calmly giving a false account.

The judge said he was sure D'Wit extracted the fentanyl from patches originally prescribed for his deceased father.

He said these were crushed into a powder and given to the couple in a drink, which they took as they trusted D'Wit to prepare "supposed health drinks".

Daughter of Carol and Stephen Baxter seen arriving at home before finding them dead

Prosecutors said he created a fake will on his phone the day after the Baxters were found dead, making him a director of their shower mat company Cazsplash.

Another fake persona - a solicitor - was used in connection with the new will, prosecutors said.

Tracy Ayling KC said in her prosecution closing speech that D'Wit murdered Mr and Mrs Baxter "calmly, coolly and in a way which had been entirely planned, maybe for some while".

He was found guilty at Chelmsford Crown Court following a trial lasting more than a month.

On Friday, Essex Police said it is among the most significant sentences ever secured after one of their investigations.

Luke D'Wit has been jailed after murdering a married couple after poisoning them with fentanyl
Luke D'Wit has been jailed after murdering a married couple after poisoning them with fentanyl. Picture: Essex Police

'Calculated killer'

Detective Superintendent Rob Kirby, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said in an interview outside court that D'Wit was "without doubt one of the most dangerous men I've ever experienced in my policing career".

He said: "I have absolutely no doubt that had he not been caught, he would have gone on to commit further murders."

Mr Kirby said that "justice has been served today", adding that D'Wit "rightly belongs behind bars".

The defendant "fooled everyone", he added.

"He befriended people, came across as a very amenable, helpful person but in the background he was a cool, calculated killer who spent years planning the demise of Carol and Stephen Baxter."

D'Wit befriended Stephen and Carol Baxter before killing them with fentanyl
D'Wit befriended Stephen and Carol Baxter before killing them both. Picture: Family handout

He described D'Wit as a "loner" who "spent hours of his time creating false personas, all there to create control over the Baxters".

"The level of deviousness he went to was phenomenal," Mr Kirby said. Asked about a possible motive, Mr Kirby said it was "unclear what was going on in D'Wit's mind".

"Certainly he stood to benefit financially from the death of the Baxters and we believe that certainly this played part of the role in his motive," he said.

He continued: "D'Wit's downfall was the arrogance that existed within him."He didn't cover his tracks properly and he was deluded in thinking that he could use fentanyl to kill two people and that wouldn't be found to be suspicious."

D'Wit was arrested at his workplace and his bag contained fentanyl patches, opened and unopened.Prosecutors questioned his claim that he was taking these back to a pharmacy following the death of his father in 2021.

D'Wit denied murdering Mr and Mrs Baxter and claimed in court that he created fake identities on the instructions of Mr Baxter and to give Mrs Baxter "someone to talk to and air all her grievances to".

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