Elderly couple 'shot and buried by daughter and son-in-law' who 'tricked relatives into believing they were alive for 15 years', court hears

William Wycherley, 85, and his wife Patricia were both shot twice with a revolver at their home over a bank holiday weekend in May 1998

A daughter and her husband shot and buried her parents in their own back garden before tricking family members into believing they were still alive and stealing £245,000 from their bank account in an extraordinary 15-year deception, a court has heard.

William Wycherley, 85, and his wife Patricia were both shot twice with a revolver at their home over a bank holiday weekend in May 1998. The bodies of the pair were then wrapped in bedding, 'stacked' one on top of the other and buried under the lawn in a grave measuring between 36ins and 40ins in depth.

The bodies were discovered at their home in Blenheim Close, Mansfield on October 10 last year.

Nottingham Crown Court was told Susan and Christopher Edwards "lied to everybody" for 15 years to cover up the killings of her mother and father.

Prosecutor Peter Joyce QC said Susan Edwards, 56, and her husband Christopher, 57, who deny all the charges, "deceived and tricked everyone into believing that Susan Edwards' parents, William and Patricia, were still alive."

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 Edwards, who were 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. The court was told the couple fled to France after authorities sent them a letter requesting to see Mrs Edwards' father Mr Wycherley, because he was approaching 100 years of age.

Christopher Edwards contacted his stepmother to ask her for money when they ran out while in France. It is alleged that she then 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 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 allegedly 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).

Jurors were told that Susan Edwards has admitted the manslaughter of her mother on the basis of provocation.

After her arrest, the court heard, she told police she believed her mother had shot her father during the bank holiday weekend, and she had then argued with Mrs Wycherley before shooting her more than once.

In her account, Mrs Edwards told police that her mother claimed during the argument to have had a sexual relationship with Christopher Edwards in the early 1990s.

But Mr Joyce asserted that her account of killing her mother - when her husband was elsewhere - and then picking up empty bullet casings had been invented before her arrest.

In his police interviews, Christopher Edwards backed up his wife's claims, and denied travelling from London to Mansfield to help her kill her parents.

He told officers he had been a member of a gun club based in Earls Court in London and had possessed a firearms certificate between 1979 and 1995.

He also claimed to have travelled to Mansfield a week after the Wycherleys died to bury their bodies, which had been placed under a bed.

Concluding his opening remarks, Mr Joyce told the jury panel: "The prosecution's case is that the story (given to police by the Edwards) had been concocted and agreed by the defendants to explain the evidence that I have told you about.

"Susan Edwards' parents, visited by their daughter and son-in-law some time during that weekend, were each shot twice whilst they were facing the person holding the gun.

"They were shot in the same way by the same person.

"The weapon had clearly been taken to Forest Town, Mansfield, in order to carry out the murder.

"It was a joint plan and they got away with it by lying and deceit for 15 years, until they ran out of money because the Centenarian Society wanted to know about the father and they had to run away."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power