A man who murdered two women then used a hospital job to prey like a “vulture” on more than 100 dead women in a mortuary, whose bodies he sexually assaulted, has been told by a judge he will die in jail.
Victims of David Fuller, 67, gave harrowing accounts of the suffering his “psychopathic” offending caused, with him videoing his necrophiliac attacks on girls and women aged from nine to 100.
The mother of his youngest victim said her daughter had been “raped” as she lay in the mortuary, with another whose loved one was attacked saying women were not safe when alive, nor in death.
The government has ordered an independent inquiry into how Fuller was able to offend for so long.
Fuller first stalked and murdered two young women in Kent in 1987, and for 33 years seemed to have got away with his crimes, before admitting them during a trial at Maidstone crown court.
A DNA breakthrough led to him being identified as the prime suspect and when police raided his home in December 2020 they uncovered hard drives full of his attacks on the dead and material downloaded from the internet showing extreme pornography including the rape of children.
Fuller murdered Wendy Knell, 25, and Caroline Pierce, 20, in separate attacks in Tunbridge Wells in 1987. Both were sexually assaulted and he had planned his attacks.
Handing down a whole-life sentence at Maidstone crown court on Wednesday, the judge, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb, explicitly said her intention was that Fuller would die in jail.
“Having killed two young women who were full of the promise of life you became a vulture, picking your victims from among the dead, within the hidden world of hospital mortuaries which you were left free to inhabit, simply because you had a swipecard,” she said.
“The depravity of what you did reveals that your conscience is seared; callused over. The sentence I am about to pass means you will spend every day of the rest of your life in prison.”
Fuller’s necrophiliac attacks are believed to be the most extensive offending of their kind in British legal history. He admitted the murders and attacks during his trial.
He used his job as a hospital electrician to enter the mortuary of two Tunbridge Wells hospitals, where from 2008 to 2020 he sexually abused 102 dead bodies. There was no CCTV where the attacks took place.
The prosecutor, Duncan Atkinson QC, said about 20 victims were yet to be identified, while 82 had been. “David Fuller systematically and repeatedly sexually abused the bodies of dead women and girls,” Atkinson said.
In interviews after his arrests, Fuller claimed not to have derived sexual pleasure. He recorded the abuse, taking video footage and photos which he later watched, then catalogued them according to types of attack. Some recordings had the name of victims, one folder was entitled “best yet”.
The court heard a Tens machine that normally offers pain relief via electrical stimulation was recovered from Fuller’s home when it was raided by police.
For most of Wednesday morning, Maidstone crown court heard accounts of the searing emotional toll from those whose loved ones had been violated by Fuller.
They told of their shock when police told them the details, in some cases years after they had lost their loved ones. If they had been alive, the victims would have suffered crimes equivalent to rape.
The mother of his youngest victim faced Fuller, telling of the “catastrophic pain” he had caused, and said toys she left in memory of her lost daughter were moved: “You raped my baby … to me this is rape in the most unimaginable way.”
The mother added: “She could not say no to the dirty 66-year-old man, who abused her body.”
“It makes my skin crawl, it really does break my heart.”
She told how after her child’s death, she had brushed her lost daughter’s blond hair, and felt guilt because she had left her in a place she believed was safe.
The court heard accounts of people left anxious, as virtual recluses, betrayed, and in some cases on medication.
The father of one of those attacked said: “I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, I cannot get these thoughts and images out of my head.
“You have proved in your depravity that monsters are very real.”
Some came to court in person, some had their statements read by the prosecutor, and others asked for their statements to be read by the judge in private.
Another person whose loved one was attacked said: “In a world where women are not safe when they are alive, they are not safe when they are dead.”
The father of an 18-year-old victim said: “Fuller has taken our little girl’s innocence and destroyed our souls. I am consumed with anger.”
One husband who lost his wife said: “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.”
The mother of one of Fuller’s victims demanded a statutory inquiry, with legal powers to force witnesses to give evidence.
Nevres Kemal, whose daughter Azra died aged 24 after falling from a motorway bridge as she fled a burning car, questioned the independence of the government inquiry announced by Sajid Javid, which is to be chaired by the former NHS trust chief executive Sir Jonathan Michael.
“The justice for the families of the mortuary victims and their families has just begun today,” said Kemal. The health secretary had promised a detailed inquiry, “but it has to be a statutory inquiry, and the families need to have an input into what goes into this inquiry”.
She claimed the families had so far been “pushed aside” and not even contacted yet. “So, we need a statutory inquiry, with an independent chair, a different chair, commissioned by Javid, and the families given a voice. They talk about honesty and transparency and lessons learned. Let’s do it properly,” she said.
Fuller researched many of his victims after the attacks via Facebook.
Knell was found dead with severe injuries in her flat in Guildford Road on 23 June 1987. Pierce was killed five months later, on 24 November, outside her home in Grosvenor Park.