Retired farmer David Venables, 89, has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years at Worcester Crown Court for the 1982 murder of his wife Brenda Venables, whose body was found hidden in a septic tank at their farmhouse 37 years later.
The sentence passed onto David Venables means he would have to reach the age of 107 before he can even apply for parole.
The 89-year-old, who had rekindled a long-standing affair shortly before killing Ms Venables at their farmhouse, showed no emotion last week as he was found guilty by a 10-2 majority verdict.
A month-long trial was told Ms Venables’ body was found in 2019 during work to empty the septic tank at Quaking House Farm, Kempsey, Worcestershire, 37 years after the 48-year-old was reported missing to police.
David Venables West Mercia Police
Her husband, of Elgar Drive, Kempsey, tried to blame Gloucester serial killer Fred West for the murder, while his legal team suggested Ms Venables may have killed herself.
Passing sentence on Venables, High Court Judge Mrs Justice Tipples said he had taken advantage of his wife’s depression to create a “carefully thought-out story” that she had left home in the middle of the night, apparently to take her own life.
The judge told the retired pig farmer that the evidence showed he had used a manhole cover to weigh down his wife’s body.
The judge also rejected defence claims that the killing had been carried out in the heat of the moment, telling Venables the whole process of disposing of the body in the septic tank, and then leaving no trace, must have required considerable planning.
She told the pensioner: “You killed Brenda Venables in her own home, where she was recuperating with an injured leg and suffering from depression. You were Brenda’s husband and she should have been able to trust you.
“Your complete lack of respect for Brenda is obvious from your decision to dispose of her body in the septic tank.
“The fact that is what you did with her body is disgusting and repulsive.”
Mrs Justice Tipples said Venables was responsible for many aspects of his wife’s mental illness.
Addressing the motive for the killing, she told the retired farmer: “I am sure you killed Brenda Venables to remove her from your life and the complications she may have presented to you in any divorce proceedings.
“There is no doubt an element of greed and selfishness.”
The judge added: “I do not accept that your life expectancy must be short.”
Venables showed no emotion throughout the judge’s lengthy sentencing remarks but could be heard shouting “no” repeatedly after he was taken out of the courtroom towards the cells.
The pensioner told jurors he had woken up in the morning to find his wife had vanished, but he was convicted of murdering her on either May 3 or May 4, 1982.
The victim’s skull and other bones were discovered in the underground tank on July 12 2019, six years after Venables had sold the property for more than £460,000.