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WYCHERLEY MURDERS - Couple spent a fortune on film memorabilia

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It is impossible to access just hom much money Susan and Christopher Edwards spent on film memorabilia over the 15 years between the Wycherley’s murders and their arrest.

But Christopher Edwards returned to England with a Euro in his pocket and a suitcase full of letters, autographs and other memorabilia - particularly from the actor Gary Cooper and other iconic figures from the silver screen.

At the time of their arrest, the Edwards had conned around £250,000 in benefits, pensions, savings and loans in the Wycherleys’ names. They also owed creditors a further £160,000 in unpaid loans in their own names.

Yet there was no lavish lifestyle, no big houses, fancy cars or foreign holidays. The Edwards didn’t socialise, and both admitted that they were passionate about antiques and memorabilia, most of which was purchased on Christopher Edward’s credit card and obtained through his work computer.

He told the jury it was because they did not have access to a computer at home, and he was making the purchases at hie wife’s request.

But the spending was significant - almost £600 on a signed photograph of Gary Cooper, and other items that related to the High Noon actor - a letter from June 1941 signed by the actor, bought for £3,000 in June 2010.

Another bought the same year and dating from 1960, purchased by Christopher Edwards for £2,500. Another was bought the following year for £4,044, again signed by Cooper and dating from 1960. But there was also Frank Sinatra memorabilia, and rumours of Winston Churchill first editions, which appear to have been sold for the Edwards to try and repay some of their spiralling debts.

“Their lifestyle has not been particularly lavish,” said Detective Chief Inspector Rob Griffin, who ran the murder investigation.

“They had lived in a small council flat in Dagenham and they were spending their money on memorabilia.

“They have got absolutely nothing to show for it but those autographed items of people they admired like Gary Cooper. I don’t think it would be unfair to call them a strange couple.”

And one facet of the case showed just how strange the Edwards were.

For many years, Christopher Edwards believed himself to be the pen friend of the renowned French actor Gerard Depardieu. Letters would appear on a regular basis, seemingly from the French star, all franked with a French postmark.

But it was only after the arrests that it emerged that Patricia Edwards had been the author, even spending hundreds of pounds on a special franking machine to give the letters authenticity.

She also claimed that she had met former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly at a London hotel, after writing to him as a teenager requesting an autograph.

“It’s really difficult to make an assessment of their relationship,” DCI Griffin added. “The Gerard Depardieu letters show us that she is a fantacist and for years they have been building lies.

“I have been involved in lots of investigations and this is probably the most unusual.

“When we got that call on October 1st last year, it was difficult to believe what we were being told. In the days that followed it became increasingly likely that what we were being told was true, and that was confirmed when we started to excavate the garden.”

PICTURED: Susan and Christopher Edwards, a signed photograph of the actor Gary Cooper which Christopher Edwards paid almost £600 for and DCI Rob Griffin.

 

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