Elderly couple 'shot and buried' by daughter and son-in-law, court told
Published 05/06/2014 | 13:13
An elderly couple were shot dead by their daughter and son-in-law, who then buried their bodies, stole from their bank account and tricked family members into believing they were still alive, a jury heard today.
Nottingham Crown Court was told Susan and Christopher Edwards "lied to everybody" for 15 years to cover up the killings of Patricia and William Wycherley.
Opening the case against the Edwards, who both deny murder, prosecutor Peter Joyce QC said William Wycherley, 85, and his 63-year-old wife were both shot twice with a revolver in the upper body over a bank holiday weekend in May 1998.
Susan Edwards, 56, and her husband Christopher, 57, are than alleged to have buried the Wycherleys' bodies in a makeshift grave in the back garden of their home in Blenheim Close, Mansfield.
Addressing a jury of eight women and four men, Mr Joyce said two joint accounts held by the Wycherleys were "cleaned out" in early May 1998, shortly after their deaths.
Mr Joyce told the jury: "A total of £40,000 or more was taken and has never been recovered.
"The prosecution's case is that Susan Edwards' parents, William and Patricia, were shot and killed by them over that bank holiday weekend, immediately before the bank accounts were closed and a new one opened.
"They were shot with a .38 revolver and over that weekend, they weren't just shot, they were buried in their own back garden.
"Over the next 15 years, in order to continue stealing money and to cover up what they had done, these two defendants lied to family members, they lied to neighbours, they lied to doctors, they lied to financial institutions, and they created and used many false documents."
Alleging that the Edwards "diverted" a total of around £245,000 into a joint account in the years after the Wycherleys were killed, Mr Joyce added: "They lied to everybody.
"They deceived and tricked everyone into believing that Susan Edwards' parents, William and Patricia, were still alive.
"They could then cover up the killings and continue to fund their own lifestyle and help to solve their financial difficulties out of monies that were continuing to be paid to the Wycherleys."
Mr Joyce told the court that the Wycherleys moved to 2 Blenheim Close in 1987.
Neighbours described the couple as reserved and rather reclusive and had little contact with them, the jury heard.
Mr Joyce told the jury that the Edwards, who married in 1983, had been in "severe financial difficulties" for much of their relationship.
The court heard that the couple owed more than £160,000 to creditors by the time they were arrested last year.
Mr Joyce said the Edwards fled to France after they received a letter from the authorities saying that they wished to see her father, Mr Wycherley, because he was approaching 100 years of age.
When they ran out of money in France, Christopher Edwards contacted his stepmother to ask her for money and gave her an account of what had happened in 1998.
His stepmother contacted the police, telling them her son had told her that he had helped Susan to bury her parents.
The Edwards returned to the UK by agreement on October 30 2013, when they were arrested, Mr Joyce said.
The court was told the bodies of Patricia and William Wycherley were found by police wrapped in bedding and buried in a grave measuring between 36ins and 40ins in depth on October 10 last year.
Post-mortem tests showed that each had been shot twice in the upper body.
Bullets recovered from both bodies were consistent with being fired from the same .38 revolver, Mr Joyce said.
The jury was told £173,767.40 was diverted from benefits and pension payments up to the Edwardses' arrest.
They received a further sum of more than £66,000 when they sold the Wycherley's home.
Mr Joyce told the jury that applications for bank loans and credit cards were made, signed in the dead Mrs Wycherley's name.
He told the court the couple created documents pretending to have been signed by the dead woman to mislead solicitors and purchasers that the Wycherleys were still alive when the Edwardses sold 2 Blenheim Close.
One of the documents was an enduring power of attorney in respect of each of the deceased pretending to have been signed by each, and each pretending to have been "witnessed" by Christopher Edwards, allowing the defendants to instruct solicitors in the sale, Mr Joyce told the court.
The court heard the couple told neighbours the Wycherleys had gone to Blackpool "due to ill health" and others that the couple had retired and gone to live in Morecambe.
"The purpose of these lies was to enable them to cover up the murders and to allow them to continue spending the deceased's money", Mr Joyce told jurors.
Meanwhile, letters and Christmas cards were also sent to relatives telling them the Wycherleys were travelling in Ireland "because of the good air".
The cards were signed "Susan and Chris, Jeff and Patricia". In one card, Mrs Edwards said her father seemed to be "having his second youth".
"It's good to see them with such zest," Mrs Edwards is alleged to have written. Letters were also written to Mr Wycherley's doctor, declining appointments and vaccines.
These were signed by the dead Mr Wycherley. Mr Joyce said letters were also sent to the Edwardses' creditors in the name of Mrs Wycherley offering to pay contributions towards repayments to their individual voluntary agreement (IVA).