LANDSCAPERS: Mansfield murderers Susan and Christopher Edwards lived in a fantasy world of silver screen actors and war leaders

There’s a pivotal moment in my book about the Wycherley Murders where Christopher Edwards was effectively duped into ‘firing a gun’ at the jury in his murder trial, along with his wife Susan.

Monday, 29th November 2021, 12:14 pm

It happened perhaps two-thirds of the way through the trial and until that point, we on the press bench had been less than convinced he would be ‘going down’.

The story that both the defendants had concocted and stuck to throughout police interviews and through their five week trial, was that Susan had paid a visit to her parents, William and Patricia Wycherley, and had been woken in the early hours by two loud bangs. She claimed to have rushed into her parents room and found her father dead on the floor - her mother standing over him with a smoking gun in her hand. In the ensuing struggle, Susan had wrestled the gun from her mother and it had accidentally gone off twice, killing Patricia.

Christopher claimed that he hadn’t even been there, and only found out the following week, when he was dragged back to Mansfield, and was only told of the deaths when they were sat downstairs in Blenheim Close eating fish and chips.

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David Thewlis and Olivia Colman in Landscapers

She was prepared to admit manslaughter due to diminished responsibility, him to disposing of the bodies and spending the money.

Things weren’t going well for Susan from the start, things were stacking up against here - but that one moment changed the tide, placing Christopher at the scene, but also showing the jury that he was an expert marksman.

And I’m really pleased that this moment has been captured in Landscapers - the new four-part drama about the case, starring Olivia Colman and David Thewlis.

Evidence had been given that Christopher had been a fanatical marksman, regularly attending a gun club in Earl’s Court.

The real Susan and Christopher Edwards

When the ban on handguns was introduced follow the Dunblane massacre, Christopher had returned two weapons - but not a third - a Second World War Colt Commander pistol, which ballistics experts had already identified as the murder weapon.

Christopher was then asked to demonstrate to the jury how he would fire a gun, and as he did so, something extraordinary happened. Standing sideways-on and using two fingers to mime the gun, a calmness came over him and he seemed to grow in stature, as he fired four perfect rounds at the jurors.

There, before them, suddenly, was a cold-blooded killer.

“He’s just shot himself in the foot, hasn’t he?” the bloke sitting next to me on the press bench whispered, and I had to agree.

A Garden of Bones: Blood Runs Thicker by your Chad journalist Andy Done-Johnson

Finally, they had found a chink in the armour.

Susan had already slipped up - describing empty shells tumbling from the gun onto the floor as she shot her mother - revolvers don’t discharge shells, they have to be removed manually.

GOTCHA!

So why did the Edwards think they could ever dupe a jury with this pack of lies?

In my view it is because they were both fantasists - living in their own imaginary worlds.

Susan gravitated to the Hollywood Hills of the 1950s, in her mind, dining out and having fun with her silver screen idols Gary Cooper and the like.

Christopher was obsessed with military strategy and political leaders, fascinated by Charles de Gaulle and Winston Churchill.

And pretty much all of the £200,000 or so that they were able to steal and embezzle following the Wycherleys’ murders were spent on memorabilia - Churchill and de Gaulle first editions for him, signed photographs and letters from Cooper and others for her.

When they were arrested at St Pancras they arrived with a few Euros in their pockets and a suitcase containing hundreds of photographs and other items that were dear to them.

I hope I got under their skins for my book - A Garden of Bones: Blood Runs Thicker. And I hope Landscapers does the same.

Although with acting talent like Colman and Thewlis, I’m sure they’ll pull it off.

A Garden of Bones: Blood Runs Thicker by Andy Done-Johnson is out now.

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