David Fuller: Bedsit killer jailed for life after 'abusing 102 bodies' in morgues aged nine to 100

When police raised Fuller's house they found countless videos of his shocking abuse, reports ITV News Correspondent Geraint Vincent

The mother of a nine-year-old whose body was abused by David Fuller says she will be forever haunted by his crimes, as the double killer and morgue killer was jailed for life.

David Fuller will never walk free again after killing two women in 1987 and preying upon the bodies of at least 102 women and girls aged between nine and 100 in morgues.

Fuller, 67, received a whole life sentence today over two women's murders.

The 67-year-old, formerly from Heathfield, was also given concurrent sentences totalling 12 years, over the abuse of women's and girls' bodies in mortuary settings at the Tunbridge Wells Hospital and the former Kent and Sussex Hospital. His mortuary victims included a nine-year-old girl, two 16-year-olds and a woman aged 100.

On passing sentence, The Honourable Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb QC, described Wendy Knell as ‘successful, happy and independent’ whilst Caroline Pierce was ‘a lively young woman finding her place in the world’, and that ‘this was premeditated killing – carefully planned and executed’.

Addressing Fuller in relation to the mortuary offences, she added: "You became a vulture, picking your victims from among the dead from the hidden world of hospital mortuaries, which you were left free to inhabit simply because you had a swipe card.

"Relatives are haunted by your abuse.

"You have sullied and stolen memories. You have shaken their sense of being able to trust the world.

"Deep sorrow and immense courage has been displayed in court today. I hope that they can banish the shadow you have cast. You had no regard for the dignity of the dead."

Wendy Knell's mother, Pam Knell spoke outside court, expressing her shock over Fuller's mortuary crimes.

  • Pam Knell, Wendy Knell's mother

Nevres Kemal's daughter Azra, a London social worker, died last year after falling through a gap on a dual carriageway bridge in Tonbridge, Kent, while trying to find help after her car burst into flames.

Her mother described her horror at learning her daughter’s body had been raped by Fuller during the day she had been visiting Azra in the morgue to embrace her in grief.

Today outside Maidstone Crown Court, following sentencing, she said in a message to Health Secretary Sajid Javid, "Azra has already been failed once.

"Please do not add further pain and anger.

"Do not fail me, honour what is right.

"Listen to the families and honour your words.

  • Nevres Kemal, Azra Kemal's mother

The family of Caroline Pierce released a statement, which read, "Today is the anniversary of Caroline's body being found 34 years ago.

"No sentence can compensate for what this animal has done, not only to Caroline but to other people as well.

"We would like to take this opportunity to publicly recognise the work and tenacity of Kent Police in never giving up."

  • Watch ITV Meridian's report on how David Fuller was able to carry out his depraved crimes undetected in a mortuary full of CCTV cameras:

The mother of one of Fuller's youngest victims faced him in court on Wednesday.

She said: “My pain – the guilt that I feel because I left her in that hospital, the one that’s meant to be a safe place.

“I have nothing, no way of closure, how will I make it up to her? How will I stand by her side now, and how will I nurse that little body that has been ruined and disrespected by that vile man?

“I am standing up for her now in front of him.

  • Detectives react to the sentencing

“It will haunt me forever and the rest of my life.”

She added: “I will go home tonight, like every night, and see the abuse that man has done to my baby.

“That man has taken everything from me.”

Fuller sat in the dock with his head bowed during his sentencing hearing in Maidstone Crown Court as it heard dozens of impact statements from the relatives of his victims before he was jailed.

He wore a prison-issue grey tracksuit, a face-mask and reading glasses and sat with his head bowed, and eyes closed or staring at the floor as families delivered emotional statements outlining their horror at his crimes against their loved ones.

Police know the names of 82 of Fuller's victims but a further 20 have not been identified and may never be, prosecutor David Atkinson QC told the court on Wednesday.

Fuller, 67, murdered Wendy Knell, 25, and Caroline Pierce, 20, in two separate attacks in Tunbridge Wells, Kent in 1987.

He also filmed himself carrying out attacks at mortuaries inside the now-closed Kent and Sussex Hospital and the Tunbridge Wells Hospital, in Pembury, where he gad worked in electrical maintenance roles since 1989.

The father of an 18-year-old victim said: “The only bit of comfort we held on to was how peaceful she looked when we said our goodbyes.

“This was destroyed when we got a knock on the door by the police to say she had been violated by a man my wife had grown up in fear of.

David Fuller did routine maintenance tasks in the part of the mortuary covered by CCTV

“Fuller has taken our little girl’s innocence and destroyed our souls. I am consumed with anger.”

The widower of another woman told him: “David, when you are serving your time behind bars, think carefully about what you have done and thank your lucky stars that I’m not sharing a cell with you.”

A statement from the family of the 100-year-old woman said: “My mother should have been safe at the mortuary and clearly she was not.

“She should never have had to have such an awful thing done to her.

“We have to live with this for the rest of our lives and I know we will all struggle with it.”

A statement written by a victim's son described how his mother had died after suffering from cancer for four years. “When she died, she was finally at peace,” he said.

“That was ruined once again by that sick, evil man… He violated her when she was lying there helpless at her most vulnerable.”

He said he has been unable to look at a picture of, or think about, his mother without seeing an image of “this evil, twisted man coming into my head”.

“In order to fulfil his perverted desires, he ruined hundreds of family members’ and friends’ memories of their loved ones,” he added.

The sister of one of Fuller’s victims said: “It is incomprehensible that there is someone in the world who would do something so horrific, not just to my sister but to other defenceless women.

“To know he recorded and documented what he was doing makes me feel physically sick.”

Another statement from a relative whose mother's body was abused said: “In a world where women are not safe alive, they are no longer safe when they are dead.”

Wendy Knell

Bedsit murders

Fuller was initially arrested over a cold case dubbed the “Bedsit Murders” on December 3 last year following new analysis of decades-old DNA evidence, which linked him to the killings.

Images of him attacking corpses - described in court as a “library of unimaginable sexual depravity” -were discovered when officers searched his three-bedroom semi-detached home, where he lived with his family.

Wendy Knell had been found dead in her apartment in Guildford Road on June 23, 1987, while Ms Pierce was snatched five months later on November 24 outside her home in Grosvenor Park.

Ms Knell's body showed signs of blunt force trauma to the head, asphyxiation to the neck, and sexual assault after her death.

Caroline Pierce was killed five months later outside her home in Grosvenor Park on November 24.

Caroline Pierce

Neighbours described hearing screams from Ms Pierce’s flat on the night in question. She was then reported missing, with no sign of her in her flat.

Her naked body was later discovered in a water-filled dyke at St Mary-in-the-Marsh on December 15 1987.

The two young women were not known to each other, but had worked in the same street in Tunbridge Wells town centre before their deaths. Their killings became known as the "Bedsit Murders".

Fuller sensationally admitted murdering the women four days into his trial.

He had earlier admitted killing them with 'diminished responsibility', but denied murder.

He also pleaded guilty to 51 other offences, including 44 charges relating to 78 identified victims in mortuaries where he was working as an electrician.

A total 78 of the victims' families have so far been contacted by Kent police, but it's feared there may be many more cases.

Speaking outside Maidstone Crown Court, Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Fotheringam said detectives were delighted with the sentence handed down on Wednesday.

"This has been living with the families for the last 34 years as if it has just happened.

Hospitals face scrutiny over Fuller's crimes

The Government has announced an independent inquiry into how Fuller went undetected and promised to look at the maximum sentence for necrophilia, which is currently two years in jail.Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott today welcomed the life sentence.

He said, “Nothing will undo the damage that this monster has done to so many lives – to Wendy and Caroline and their families, and the relatives of those affected by his appalling abuse of trust and depraved acts in NHS mortuaries.

"A whole life sentence was the most appropriate outcome of this trial.  He will never see freedom again and I commend the Judge for using her full powers in this heinous case.

He added that support services remain in police for those who need it.

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust chief executive Miles Scott said, “I would like to apologise once again for the hurt that has been caused to families as a result of these appalling crimes.

“We have been in contact with the families affected in recent weeks and our priority continues to be to provide them with any help or assistance they may need for as long as they may need it.

“We remain committed to complete openness and transparency around the criminal activities committed by Fuller, as we support Sir Jonathan Michael’s investigation.

“We will make any further improvements recommended from the independent inquiry and we have undertaken a risk assessment of our mortuary including assuring ourselves against existing Human Tissue Authority guidance.”