'Pathological liar' who poisoned married Essex couple with fentanyl jailed for life

D'Wit will be sentenced at a later date.
Luke D'Wit drugged Stephen and Carol Baxter with the strong painkiller fentanyl at their home in April last year. Credit: Essex Police

A "nerdy" IT worker who manipulated a married couple and then went on to poison them in order to inherit their business has been sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum term of 37 years.

Luke D'Wit, 34, drugged Stephen and Carol Baxter with the strong painkiller fentanyl at their home in West Mersea, Essex, in April last year.

Mrs Baxter, 64, and her 61-year-old husband were both found dead in their armchairs on Easter Sunday by their daughter Ellie who described D'Wit as "nerdy weird".

He befriended them over the course of a number of years and then faked their will to make him a director of their shower mat company.

As part of his elaborate plan, D'Wit created a gallery of fake personas in order to deceive the couple - including pretending to be a doctor from Florida who could help with Mrs Baxter's thyroid condition Hashimoto’s.

Stephen and Carol Baxter were found dead at their home last April. Credit: Family photo

After being found guilty of the murders at Chelmsford Crown Court on Wednesday, D'Wit was sentenced at the same court on Friday and was told he will serve at least 37 years in jail.

Sentencing D'Wit, judge Mr Justice Nicholas Lavender told him: “It’s distinctly possible what motivated you was a desire to control others.”

The judge added that he was sure that D’Wit “extracted the fentanyl from patches which had been originally prescribed for your father, who died in 2021”.

He said these were crushed into a powder and given to the couple to drink, which they took because they believed they were "health drinks."

The couple's daughter, Ellie Baxter, arriving at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday. Credit: PA

In her victim impact statement, the Baxter's daughter Ellie said that D'Wit had "completely brainwashed" his mother when he tricked her into thinking she was getting help from what was in reality a fake doctor.

“I tried to push her to go to the doctor’s, which she did but she was completely brainwashed by Dr Andrea Bowden,” she said.

“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."

The head of major crime at Essex Police, Det Supt Rob Kirby, had previously described D'Wit as "one of the most dangerous men" he had seen during his policing career and added that he had "absolutely no doubt" he would have gone to kill again had he not been caught.

  • Detective Inspector Lydia George speaking outside court

Following sentencing on Friday, Det Supt Kirby's colleague Detective Inspector Lydia George said that D'Wit was a "pathological liar" who "clearly enjoyed" controlling others.

“It is simply impossible to put a number on the lives of Carol and Stephen. They were loving, generous parents. They helped people and touched the lives of many," she said.

“They were entering a period in their lives where they should have been able to enjoy precious time with their grandchildren.

“They should have been planning holidays, looking forward to spending Christmases with family and living their lives to the full. Luke D’Wit took all that away in April 2023.

"The significant sentence handed down today is entirely fitting for the pathological liar that he is. I truly hope this sentence is of some comfort to the family as they move forward.”

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