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Years of “systemic procedural failings” at an NHS hospital allowed necrophiliac murderer David Fuller to sexually abuse the bodies of more than 100 women and girls over 15 years, an independent investigation has found.

The 68-year-old electrician was handed a life sentence in 2021 after police discovered a shocking trove of photos of the abuse during a search of his East Sussex home. An investigation has been launched to find out how he was able to carry out his crimes undetected for so long at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust.

The investigation found that “management, governance, regulatory failures, failure to follow standard policies and procedures, and a persistent lack of curiosity contributed to creating an environment in which he was able to offend and do so.” For 15 years without ever being suspected or caught.”

In 2021, necrophiliac David Fuller was also found to have committed the long-unsolved “Living Room Murders” in 1987

(Kent Police/PA)

NHS trust executives and others charged with oversight and regulation should “think seriously and carefully about their responsibility for the weaknesses and failings identified in the investigation,” Sir Jonathan Michael told reporters on Tuesday.

Opportunities were missed to question Fuller’s working practices and it was never properly questioned why he routinely worked beyond his contracted hours and completed unnecessary tasks in the mortuary, Sir Jonathan said.

“There was little consideration as to who entered the mortuary. Fuller entered the mortuary 444 times in a single year and this went unnoticed and unchecked,” he added.

According to the investigation, which heard from more than 200 witnesses and reviewed some 3,700 documents, mortuary staff were largely unsupervised, left to their own devices and often did not follow standard operating procedures.

“Deceased people were left outside the fridges in the autopsy room both overnight and during working hours when Fuller was carrying out maintenance work,” Sir Jonathan said, noting that he was not accompanied or supervised by mortuary staff at these times.

“In their irregular assessments, those responsible for the funeral authorities often failed to recognize these systemic procedural deficiencies.”

Fuller himself told the inquest that he was able to access the mortuary logbook to assess whether the bodies he abused posed a risk of serious infection and that he found a way to effectively lock the autopsy room door from the inside .

A witness also told the inquest that he was alerted to an allegation of necrophilia at the Kent and Sussex Weald NHS Trust mortuary in 1998 by an electrician. However, the alleged statements were not confirmed by the alleged individual and the investigation was unable to substantiate the claim.

Managers at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust have been urged to “consider seriously and carefully their responsibility for the weaknesses and failings identified”.

(PA)

Among the 17 recommendations made as part of the inquiry, the trust was asked to install CCTV footage at the mortuary and recommended that staff and contractors who do not work at the mortuary always be accompanied by another member of staff when visiting the facility should be.

Fuller filmed himself sexually abusing the corpses of more than 100 women and girls at the now-closed Kent and Sussex Hospital and Tunbridge Wells Hospital, where he had worked since 1989.

More than half of his offenses were committed between 2018 and his arrest in December 2020 – a period that coincided with a “rapid improvement” in other areas of the NHS trust’s performance, Sir Jonathan noted.

“This is a stark reminder that there may be serious hidden problems in organizations that appear to be performing well,” he said.

Police discovered a library containing 818,051 images and 504 videos of his abuse during a search of the three-bedroom home in Heathfield where he lived with his family – after Fuller was arrested over one of the longest unsolved double murder cases in the UK.

In the so-called “living room murders”, Fuller beat and strangled 25-year-old Wendy Knell and 20-year-old Caroline Pierce to death before sexually assaulting them in two separate attacks in Tunbridge Wells in 1987.

Caroline Pierce, 20 (left) and Wendy Knell, 25, were both murdered by Fuller in 1987

(PA)

Wendy was found dead in her apartment, while Caroline was abducted five months later outside her home half a mile away on a quiet residential street. Her naked body was discovered on December 15 in a water-filled dike near St Mary in the Marsh.

But it was only through a new analysis of decades-old DNA evidence – which identified a relative in the national database – that Fuller was finally arrested on December 3, 2020.

While Fuller initially pleaded not guilty on the grounds of diminished responsibility for the murders, he dramatically changed his plea on the fourth day of his trial in November 2021 – and was sentenced to life in prison the following month.

He also pleaded guilty to 44 charges relating to 78 victims at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust morgues between 2008 and November 2020 following the discovery of Fuller’s photo library. Then last November, Fuller admitted to sexually abusing another 20 dead women between 20 and 2007 and 2020.

The next phase of the independent inquiry will expand its focus across the NHS to identify potential failings in the oversight of mortuaries and will also look at funeral homes.

Source : www.independent.co.uk

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