Heathfield man David Fuller in court over murder of two Tunbridge Wells women in 1980s

A Heathfield electrician who has admitted brutally killing two women in 1987 had been sexually interfering with bodies in a mortuary, a jury has heard.

Tuesday, 2nd November 2021, 12:43 pm
Heathfield man arrested in connection with the deaths of Wendy Knell and Caroline Pierce in 1987 SUS-200312-123525001

David Fuller, now 67, took part in “bizarre and grossly repellent” activity with his two victims, it has been claimed.

Fuller, of Alder Close, has gone on trial accused of the two murders of Wendy Knell, 25, and waitress Caroline Pierce, 20.

The jury at Maidstone Crown Court heard that Fuller – who worked at two hospitals in the 1980s – now admitted killing the women but claims he was suffering from mental illness at the time of his “cold-blooded activities”.

But prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said Fuller was responsible for his depravity.

He added: “The defendant’s clear sexual interest in a bizarre and disturbing activity shows a unique link between the deaths of Caroline and Wendy.”

The court heard he also had access to mortuaries while working at hospitals in the area.

Mr Atkinson said. “Following his arrest for the two killings in December 2020, the police undertook a painstaking search of his address.

“This uncovered his possession of a number of hard drives and hard copy images, carefully concealed and stored at his home, that showed that over an extended period of time he had used access his then job gave him to the mortuary of first the Kent and Sussex Hospital and then the Tunbridge Wells Hospitals.”

In the loft of Fuller’s semi-detached house approximately 250 storage boxes were found which included material dating back to the 1980s, including his diaries for 1986 and 1987.

Mr Atkinson added: “There officers found evidence in hard drives which contained a library of unimaginable sexual depravity.”

Ms Knell’s boyfriend found her body in her bedsit in June 1987. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled.

Five months later Ms Pierce vanished from outside her home a mile away. Her body was discovered in a flooded culvert 40 miles away on Romney Marsh weeks later.

Fuller arrived in the dock dressed in a grey track suit and bottoms. He answered only to acknowledge his name and sat with his head down during the opening.

Mr Atkinson said that at the time of their deaths, Fuller lived with his then wife in a staff house of Broomhill School, Tunbridge Wells – two-and-a-half miles from addresses where victims were resident.

“He had use of a car – car movements were observed at time of each killing. He had connections to addresses – he had previously lived at Guildford Road.

“He was linked to location where Caroline’s body was recovered – his grandparents lived in Hythe.”

He added: “Each of the two women died in a strikingly similar fashion, which leads to a safe conclusion that they died at the hands of the same man.

“What links these two women is this defendant, David Fuller. Caroline Pierce, 20 years old, was last seen on November 24, 1987, and had been dropped close to her ground floor flat.

“People living in nearby addresses heard the sound of two high-pitched screams of terror from a female.

“She was reported missing when she failed to attend work. There was no sign of her or disturbance at her flat.”

The prosecutor added that at the time of her death Wendy was working as the manageress of Supasnaps, in Camden Road, Tunbridge Wells, and was planning to marry.

He added: “She was in a relationship with Ian Plass, who she had met in December 1985.

“He has died since the time of the killing. The couple planned to marry and to start a family.

“Neither he nor any of her friends were aware of her being in any form of sexual relationship with anyone else.

“They had spent the evening together on June 22 and the killing occurred after Plass had dropped her off.”

The jury heard how Anthony Lemm, who lived in Flat 7, 14 Guildford Road, saw a man looking into a window of a flat opposite his, off the alleyway, on that night at around 10.30pm.

Mr Atkinson added: “Before he made off Mr Lemm had seen the same male looking into the same window three times a week for the past three weeks.

“The following morning Deborah Larraz arrived at Supasnaps at 8.50am to find unexpectedly that Ms Knell was not there.

“When she had still not arrived by 9.15am she called the branch manager for Tonbridge for help and went to Ms Knell’s flat.

“She rang the doorbell but got no answer. She spoke to Ms Knell’s mother who said that she had asked Mr Plass to go to the flat. He did so at about 11am and also got no answer from the doorbell.

“He gained entry to the building but found the door to Ms Knell’s flat locked. Mr Plass went around to the back of the building, via the alleyway.”

The prosecutor told the jury: “Once inside, Mr Plass encountered the stuff of nightmares.

The prosecutor said that her killer managed to enter and leave the premises undetected and carry out the attack without leaving obvious traces, suggesting this was a killer thinking about his actions, taking precautions and taking care.

“Put another way, a killer who had his wits about him, rather than being mentally unfit,” he added.

The jury then heard how the second victim, Ms Pierce had moved into the ground floor flat at 27 Grosvenor Park after October 5, 1987.

“Grosvenor Park is situated off Grosvenor Road, Tunbridge Wells and is a no-through road. No 27 is situated at the top of a cul de-sac, adjacent to the disused Woodbury Park cemetery, “ said the prosecutor.

He said that Ms Pierce’s flat overlooked the cemetery, and it was accessed by a set of steep stairs down the side of the property.

Mr Atkinson added: “As with Ms Knell’s address this was an area with which the defendant was familiar.

“A letter was recovered when his address was searched after the defendant’s arrest which was addressed to him at 124 Upper Grosvenor Road, not far away.

“Moreover, a colleague of the defendant’s then wife at Broomhill Bank School lived in a basement flat at 57A Grosvenor Park, which similarly backed onto Woodbury Cemetery.

“She also recalled an occasion in January-February 1987 when she became aware of a prowler looking through the venetian blinds into her bedroom.

“The prowler could only have gained access via the alleyway at the bottom of her garden.

“Another resident of Upper Grosvenor Road, Jennifer Talaber, encountered a prowler as she was getting ready for bed on an evening on which she had been visited by the defendant, and recognised the prowler at her window as having been him. This was also in 1986, “ he added.

The jury heard how Ms Pierce had been concerned about a prowler just eight weeks before her death .

Mr Atkison added: “Window locks were fitted to her windows because Caroline had complained of a prowler and did not feel secure at her home.

She had also told her former boyfriend, Andrew Soameson, in the period of October 23-26, 1987 that a prowler or peeping tom had been around her flat.

The trial continues.