Friend 'manipulated Essex couple for years' before Fentanyl poisoning of Carol and Stephen Baxter

Stephen and Carol Baxter died at their home in West Mersea.
Credit: ITV News Anglia/Facebook.
Carol and Stephen Baxter were poisoned by Luke D'Wit, the court heard. Credit: ITV News Anglia/Facebook

A man accused of murdering a wealthy couple to inherit their business in a fraudulent will may have been manipulating and abusing them for years previously, a court heard.

Detectives from Essex Police found 80 devices belonging to Luke D'Wit following the deaths of Stephen and Carol Baxter in Mersea Island in April 2023.

On the devices, which included phones, laptops, hard drives and memory sticks, they said they found evidence of false identities, email communications and phone numbers. 

Luke D’Wit is accused of inventing these personas to manipulate Mrs Baxter and to a lesser extent her husband, prosecutor Tracy Ayling KC told a murder trial.

D'Wit, 34, denies two counts of murder and is standing trial at Chelmsford Crown Court.

Luke D'Wit speaking to police after they arrived at the Baxter's home, as filmed on bodyworn camera. Credit: Essex Police

Police say he invented fake support groups and doctors to provide information and advice on Mrs Baxter's existing thyroid condition.

The justification for this, they say, was so that he could convince her she was seriously ill and make her smoothies and other food and drink based on this false information.

Mrs Baxter, 64, had told her daughter these "treatments" tasted “disgusting”.

Mrs Baxter had been referred to specialists suffering unusual symptoms for some time before her death yet the cause could not be determined.

The prosecution claims D’Wit had convinced Mrs Baxter that her thyroid condition was the cause of her discomfort in order that she should continue accepting the complimentary therapies that he apparently found for her online. 

Victory Road, where the couple lived and where they were found dead. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The court was told Mrs Baxter was even advised by one of these fake medics that seeing family members or going to work would release chemicals in her body that would worsen her symptoms.

Prosecutors say, however, that in reality all the advice was coming from D’Wit.

Other invented names included a solicitor who it was claimed had drawn up an alternative will which D’Wit would benefit from.

This was later found to have been created on D’Wit’s phone the day after the couple had died.

Jurors heard the prosecution outline an elaborate plot aimed at deceiving the Baxters, culminating in their poisoning using the drug Fentanyl and the discovery of their bodies on Easter Sunday, 9 April, last year.

The trial at Chelmsford Crown Court continues and is expected to last six weeks.

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