The man charged with the murders of reclusive Forest Town pensioners Patricia and William Wycherley did not know his wife had transferred more that £40,000 from their accounts until after his arrest, Nottingham Crown Court has heard.
Christopher Edwards (57) told the court today (12th June) that he was unaware that his wife Susan Edwards (56) had opened a Halifax Building Society joint account in her and her mother’s name on May 5th 1998 - the day after the May bank holiday weekend in which they died.
Susan Edwards opened the account and transferred cash from other accounts belonging to William and Patricia Wycherley, whose bodies were recovered from a grave in the rear garden of their Blemheim Close home last year.
He told the court that his wife returned to London on the same date and only told him that here parents were lying dead upstairs the following weekend, when they returned to Mansfield to ‘look after the house.’
They then buried the bodies and allowed the world to think they were still alive, making over £250,000 in pensions, loans and other payments over the next 15 years, the court heard.
But giving evidence on the first day of the defence, Christopher Edwards said that he had not been aware of the cash transfers until his arrest and questioning by officers from the East Midland Major Crime Unit last October.
He said: “Money didn’t come into it as far as I was concerned. It was all about them disappearing from the records - I wanted to conceal the fact that they were dead.”
The Edwards fled to France after they were contacted in 2012 by the Government wanting to speak to William Wycherley, who would have been celebrating his 100th birthday that year - unaware that he had already been dead for 15 years. Christopher Edwards lied to his employer - saying he needed to borrow £10,000 for repairs on his step-mother’s house.
The Edwards then fled to France, but eventually agreed to return to the UK for questioning, and were arrested at St Pancras Station.
“It was our plan to hole up in France for as long as we could,” Christopher Edwards said.
“It wasn’t the case that I couldn’t take it anymore - it was the case that we couldn’t sustain ourselves anymore. I had one Euro left in my pocket.
“We sat on a crowded train and we were very quiet. We had not concocted a story.”
Prosecuting, Peter Joyce QC told the court that as late as 2011, Christopher Edwards was spending thousands of pounds on film memorabilia, despite owing massive sums to creditors.
Between 2009 and 2011, Christopher Edwards spent around £14,000 on signed letters from the actor Gary Cooper, which he purchased using his work computer, the court heard.
Mr Joyce said: “You were aware of the disaster that was your and your wife’s finances. What did you think about your parents-in-laws’ pensions? Lucky bonus?
“When she got to London on that Tuesday in May 1995, she didn’t tell you that she probably had £900 in her handbag?”
Of the £40,000 initially transferred from the Wycherleys’ accounts, around £24,000 has never been accounted for, the court heard.
Earlier today, Christopher Edwards said that his wife Susan had told him she had met Bill Shankly in a hotel room in London and that they had also received hundreds of letters from French actor Gérard Depardieu.
Edwards told the court that he had found out only a matter of days ago that his wife had actually written the letters.
Speaking about the time at which the Wycherleys were killed, Edwards said: “I was saying we should go to the police but Susan became very distressed indeed. She was saying ‘you can’t, you can’t, it’s matricide, its my mum’. She was getting more and more distressed, like a child.
“She suggested that we ought to hide them. The first suggestion was perhaps we hide them in the loft but the garden was the only feasible place.”
Susan and Christopher Edwards both deny murdering William and Patricia Wycherley, Susan Edwards has admitted her mother’s manslaughter.
The case continues.