A reclusive Forest Town couple were shot dead by their daughter and son-in-law, who buried their bodies in the back garden, stole from their bank accounts and conned relatives and neighbours into thinking they were still alive, a jury was told today (5th June).
Susan and Christopher Edwards ‘lied to everybody’ for 15 years to cover up the killings of Patricia and William Wycherley, and siphoned £245,000 into their own accounts, Nottingham Crown Court was told.
Mr Wycherley (85) and his 63-year-old wife were both shot twice with a .38 revolver over the May Bank Holiday weekend of 1998 at their Blenheim Close home, prosecutor Peter Joyce QC said as he opened the case against the Edwards.
“The prosecution case is that Susan Edwards’ parents were shot and killed by them over that bank holiday weekend,” Mr Joyce told the court.
“They were shot using a .38 revolver and over that bank holiday weekend they were not just shot but they were also buried in their own back garden.
“Over the next 15 years and in order to continue stealing money and to keep up the pretence that the couple were still alive, they lied to family members, they lied to neighbours, and they lied to financial institutions - they lied to everybody. They deceived everybody into thinking William and Patricia Wycherley were still alive.”
It was not until William Wycherley was approaching his hundredth birthday that the couple came unstuck, after they were contacted by organisations for centenarians, the prosecution claimed.
The Edwards then fled to France with £10,000 he had borrowed from his employers, but when they ran out of money, Christopher Edwards contacted his step-mother to ask for more and admitted he ‘had helped his wife to bury her parents in the back garden’, the court heard.
The step-mother then contacted police and the Edwards returned from France and were arrested at St Pancras Station, the court heard.
The bodies had almost been discovered in 2005 when a car had ploughed into the garden fence at Blenheim Close, near to where the Wycherleys were buried, and at this point the Edwards had decided to sell the house, the court heard.
“Neighbours described the deceased as reserved and had little contact with them,” Mr Joyce said.
“Neither of the deceased were seen alive after Mayday 1998 and the reason for this is plain - on that weekend they were shot by the defendants and buried the same weekend in their own garden.
“Indeed, neighbours saw Christopher Edwards in the rear garden in the early hours of one morning digging a large hole.”
On the Tuesday following the deaths, a joint account was opened in the names of Susan Edwards and Patricia Wycherley at a Halifax Building Society branch in Mansfield, and other accounts belonging to the Wycherleys were closed down, the court heard.
They then maintained the pretence that the Wycherleys were still alive for a further 15 years, applying for loans and credit and claiming benefits in their name, the court heard.
But the Edwards had a poor track record with money and, at the time of their arrest, owed a total of £160,000 to various creditors.
“From the very beginning they had the means to channel all monies payable to the deceased into their own hands, whether by way of state benefits and pension payments, or by obtaining credit in the names of the deceased, or by selling their house,” Mr Joyce told the court.
“Between 5th May 1998 and the defendants’ arrest, £173,767.40 was diverted from benefits and pension payments, and a further sum of in excess of £66,000 was obtained from the illicit selling of their home.”
The Edwards also forged letters and cards to friends and relatives, and concocted a web of lies about where the old couple were, the court heard.
Over time, they told people that the Wycherley’s had moved to Auckland in New Zealand, Blackpool and Morecambe, or were travelling around Ireland.
But eventually, the deceit was blown open and when police descended on the Forest Town address, they discovered two bodied lying on their sides in a single grave, with William Wycherley piled on top of his wife, the court heard.
Both had been shot twice and had been facing their killer at the time of their deaths. Patricia Wycherley had a bullet in her spine which suggested it may have passed through her heart, Mr Joyce said.
But the Edwards claim Patricia Wycherley murdered her husband and was then shot herself by Susan Edwards.
Christopher Edwards, who was a gun enthusiast and had owned several weapons including a .38 revolver, played no part in the deaths and only helped to bury the bodies, the court was told.
Susan Edwards told police that she had shot her mother while staying at their Blenheim Close home over the May Bank Holiday weekend in 1998.
Susan Edwards, who claims she was sexually abused by her father as a child, told police that she went into her parents room and saw her father lying dead on the floor and her mother with a gun.
The court was then told that Susan Edwards had rowed with her mother and killed her after Patricia Wycherley confessed to knowing about the abuse, and claiming she had an affair with Christopher Edwards.
Edwards then brought her husband up from London the following weekend, where she told him about the deaths while they ate fish and chips in the downstairs living area, the court heard.
The couple claim they then watched the Eurovision Song Contest before Christopher Edwards went out in the dead of night and dug a grave for his parents-in-law.
The gun and spent cartridges were then dumped in a bin in Mansfield, they told police.
But prosecutors said that forensic examinations showed that there were no maggots on either body, which they say proves the Wycherley’s were buried shortly after they were killed.
The case continues tomorrow.