'Cold and calculated' IT worker found guilty of poisoning West Mersea couple with fentanyl

Luke D'Wit was captured on bodycam talking to an officer.
Bodycam footage of Luke D'Wit being interviewed by police after the couple were found dead. Credit: Essex Police

An IT worker who befriended a couple before poisoning them with the painkiller fentanyl has been found guilty of their murders.

Luke D'Wit then faked a will in the name of Stephen and Carol Baxter so that he could inherit their shower mat business in West Mersea, Essex.

A jury at Chelmsford Crown Court took less than two days to convict D'Wit of two counts of murder.

During the trial, they were told D'Wit had invented a cast of characters as he deceived the couple and ultimately poisoned them.

He will be sentenced on Friday.

Stephen and Carol Baxter. Credit: Family photo

Mrs Baxter, 64, and her 61-year-old husband were found dead in their armchairs at their home in West Mersea by their daughter Ellie on Easter Sunday last year.

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.

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

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

D'Wit will be sentenced at a later date. Credit: Essex Police

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”.

Speaking outside court after the guilty verdict, Detective Superintendent Rob Kirby, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said that D’Wit was “without doubt one of the most dangerous men I’ve ever experienced in my policing career”.

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

“He would befriend people and purport to be an upstanding, helpful and kind member of the community. The reality is far more sinister. He is a cold, calculated murderer.”

The court heard over the course of the almost six-week trial that D'Wit poisoned the couple by lacing their medication with the opioid painkiller fentanyl.

D'Wit was arrested at his workplace. Credit: Essex Police

Having met Mr and Mrs Baxter in 2014, he gradually became more involved in family life and helped Mrs Baxter manage her thyroid condition, Hashimoto's disease.

He went on to create a series of fake personas to manipulate them, with jurors even being played one example of him practicing a female voice - a tactic he used to trick the couple into believing that they were talking to theatre producer who could help their daughter with a career as a vocalist.

He also posed as a fictional US-based doctor named “Andrea Bowden” who had experience in dealing with Hashimoto’s disease - advice that had "no clinical basis."

“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,” Mr Kirby added.

  • Detective Superintendent Rob Kirby speaks outside court

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.

In the aftermath of D'Wit's arrest at his workplace, a bag containing fentanyl patches was discovered by officers.

The Baxter's daughter Ellie said in evidence that her parents believed D’Wit was “weird, but nerdy weird”, and eventually came round their house "every day" after gaining their trust.

The couple's daughter, Ellie Baxter, found her parents dead in their armchairs. Credit: PA

Ellie wept as the guilty verdicts were returned, but D'Wit, who used a wheelchair throughout the trial, did not appear to react in the secure dock of the court.

"My mum and dad are dead. But they didn't just die. They were taken from me and my young children," said Ellie in a statement.

"My mum lost her freedom, her will, her ability to function two years prior to her murder due to her illness.

"An illness no-one could help with or understand because it was contrived by Luke D'Wit.

"Mum felt so alone and lost and there was nothing I could do other then give her my shoulder to cry on and cuddle her."

Throughout the trial, D’Wit denied murdering Mr and Mrs Baxter and claimed 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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