Man ‘poisoned couple with fentanyl before rewriting their will on his phone’

A toxicology report indicated that a factor in both deaths was the drug fentanyl

Sam Russell
Wednesday 14 February 2024 15:24 GMT
Carol and Stephen Baxter, alleged murder victims in Mersea, Colchester Essex
Carol and Stephen Baxter, alleged murder victims in Mersea, Colchester Essex (Supplied)

A man poisoned a married couple with the opioid painkiller fentanyl and rewrote their will, a murder trial has heard.

Tracy Ayling KC, prosecuting, said Luke D’Wit, 34, worked for and had befriended Stephen and Carol Baxter of Mersea

Luke D’Wit
Luke D’Wit (PA)

Island, Essex, saying in a statement to police that he was “like an adopted son to both of them”.

She told Chelmsford Crown Court that Mr Baxter, 61, and his 64-year-old wife ran a company called Cazsplash, with Mrs Baxter having designed a type of bathmat to go around a curved, corner shower.

The prosecutor said that a will “was created by Luke D’Wit on his phone on April 10 at 6.54am”, the day after Mr and Mrs Baxter were found dead.

Ms Ayling said D’Wit was the “beneficiary of a very odd will”, whose terms included that “our dear friend Luke D’Wit is to be the person of significant control” for Cazsplash.

She said the prosecution case was that D’Wit, “who worked for and had befriended” the couple, was responsible for poisoning them.

“He had rewritten their will and stolen Carol’s jewellery, among many other things, to benefit from their deaths,” said Ms Ayling.

D’Wit, of Churchfields, West Mersea, denies murdering Mr and Mrs Baxter.

Ms Ayling said that the couple’s daughter, Ellie Baxter, arrived at their home and saw them dead inside the conservatory in Victory Road in Mersea Island on Easter Sunday – April 9 – last year.

“They were found by their daughter and her partner dead in their conservatory, sitting in their individual armchairs,” said Ms Ayling.

“There was no obvious reason for their deaths but as their bodies were examined it was revealed they had been poisoned by a drug called fentanyl.”

Ms Ayling said there was no suicide note and the “whole area including the kitchen was very neat and tidy”.

She said their daughter called the ambulance service at 1.10pm and all three emergency services attended, including the fire service who ruled out carbon monoxide poisoning.

The prosecutor said that a toxicology report of June 29 2023 indicated that a factor in both deaths was the drug fentanyl.

In both cases, their stomach contents were analysed and it “suggests but doesn’t conclusively show that the drug was ingested orally”.

Mrs Baxter, who had a thyroid condition and a pacemaker, was also found to have the antihistamine drug promethazine in her system, Ms Ayling said.

She said toxicology suggested but did not conclusively show that the drug, which she said was available in products such as Night Nurse, was ingested orally.

“It’s difficult to imagine any scenario when two individuals who are not prescribed fentanyl could accidentally contaminate their food with this drug,” said Ms Ayling.

In a 999 call played to the court, the couple’s daughter Ellie Baxter screamed and wept and told a call handler “I need an ambulance right now.”

She says “I need to get inside” and is heard banging on the glass of the conservatory, swearing and saying that she thought they were dead.

D’Wit is later heard taking over the call, as Ms Baxter weeps in the background, and D’Wit tells the call handler “I’m a friend”.

Ms Ayling said the defendant lived “a couple of minutes away” from Mr and Mrs Baxter.

The prosecutor said D’Wit appeared “very calm and plausible” in the call.

She said D’Wit “was the last person to see them alive”.

“Mr D’Wit wasn’t seen as a suspect but in fact provided statements to police as a witness,” she said.

In an account to police, D’Wit said he left Mr and Mrs Baxter’s address at 7.55pm on April 7, the barrister said.

“He said Carol was asleep and Steve was standing in the kitchen saying he was going to do something for dinner,” said Ms Ayling.

She said D’Wit did leave at this time “but police were able to discover he left Carol and Stephen incapacitated at that time”.

The trial, estimated to last six weeks, continues.

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