HomeWorldHospital worker in court for sexually abusing bodies in mortuaries

Hospital worker in court for sexually abusing bodies in mortuaries

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A hospital electrician on trial for the murder of two young women in 1987 allegedly went on to abuse female corpses in two hospital mortuaries, a court has been told.

David Fuller, 67, has previously admitted killing Wendy Knell, 25, and Caroline Pierce, 20, in Tunbridge Wells but denied murder due to “diminished responsibility”.

A jury at Maidstone Crown Court heard on Monday that Fuller had “depraved sexual predilections” and had attacked corpses for an “extended period of time” at the hospitals where he worked.

He was an electrician at the Kent and Sussex Hospital from 1989, before moving to the Tunbridge Wells Hospital in 2010, the court heard.

Fuller was finally arrested for the murders in December 2020 when detectives allegedly found evidence of the mortuary attacks.

There they found images of dead women at the two hospital mortuaries being abused by Fuller, Duncan Atkinson QC, prosecuting, said.

Officers then found four hard drives with five terabytes of data storage in total attached to the back of a cupboard.

“When these hard drives were examined, they were found to contain a library of unimaginable sexual depravity”, Mr Atkinson QC said.

“There were both photographs and videos which showed the defendant sexually abusing female corpses in the mortuaries of the two hospitals at which he worked, first the Kent and Sussex Hospital, where he worked full time from 1989, and then the Tunbridge Wells Hospital, to which he moved in 2010”, he said.

In a police interview, Fuller admitted to using Facebook to search for photos of the people he abused in the mortuary.

In relation to identifying and naming the files containing images of his offending against dead people, he said that he had gone back to name them at a later stage, using the ledgers from the mortuary and identification tags on the bodies, Mr Atkinson QC said.

He added: “He admitted to searching for them on the internet, including on Facebook. He claimed that this would be after the offending, rather than research before offending.”

Mr Atkinson QC said these images provided evidence that Fuller committed the acts out of “sexual gratification” and not mental illness.

“It shows the defendant to derive sexual gratification from sexual activity with those who have died,” he said.

He added: “It therefore provides a reason for the killings, however deviant and repellent, that does not depend on an explanation of mental illness that deprived the defendant of his self-control.”

He said Wendy was last seen alive when she was dropped off at her flat by her boyfriend on Guildford Road on June 22.

Her body was found in her flat the next day lying on the bed naked but covered with a duvet, the court heard.

Mr Atkinson said: “She had sustained blunt force trauma to the head – she had been asphyxiated by application of pressure to the neck.”

Wendy had been sexually assaulted at time of, or after death, the court heard.

A distinctive footprint left in blood was found on a blouse recovered from Wendy’s flat.

Photographs showed Fuller wearing the same type of shoes, Mr Atkins said.

He said: “This mark was identified as coming from a Clarks Sportstrek training shoe. Following the defendant’s arrest, many photographs were found that showed him wearing a pair of trainers and a detailed examination has shown them to be a pair of Clarks Sportstrek trainers.”

Caroline was last seen on 24 November, 1987, after being dropped off close to her ground floor flat, also in Tunbridge Wells.

Neighbours later reported hearing two high pitched screams that night, the court heard.

Her almost naked body was found in a water-filled dyke at St Mary in the Marsh at Romney Marsh, Kent, 21 days later on December 15.

Caroline had also sustained blunt force trauma to head, had suffered asphyxiation by pressure to the neck and had been sexually assaulted.

DNA evidence from both women’s bodies link Fuller to their killing, the court heard.

The prosecutor said there were reported incidents of a prowler operating around the homes of both victims.

He said: “A male of a similar profile to Fuller had been seen looking through an address near to Wendy Knell on the same night.”

Caroline had reported a prowler in late October in 1987 – a month before her disappearance, the court heard.

Mr Atkinson said that evidence found during a search of Fuller’s home showed that he had taken images of women’s corpses in the mortuaries of Kent and Sussex hospital and Tunbridge Wells hospital.

It showed that Fuller had a “particular interest” in the sexual assault of dead women.

Mr Atkinson QC said that the prosecution’s case is that Fuller killed and sexually assaulted the women to satisfy his desire.

“His desire for sexual gratification through the observation and identification of vulnerable women, gaining control of them, and then indulging his depraved sexual predilections in relation to them, all provides the explanation in relation to their murder.

“It follows that he is responsible for the killing of these young women and then sexually assaulting their bodies after their deaths.”

The trial continues.

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