Debt-ridden Susan and Christopher Edwards sold Patricia and William Wycherley’s home and collected benefits and pension payments as the couple’s bodies lay undiscovered from 1998 to 2013, Nottingham Crown Court heard yesterday.
The jury heard that neighbours and relatives of Mr and Mrs Wycherley, aged 85 and 63, were told after their deaths that the elderly couple had gone travelling or had moved to the coast for health reasons.
Opening his case, prosecutor Peter Joyce QC said the couple, who married in 1983, had been in “severe financial difficulties” for much of their relationship and remained £160,000 in debt when they were arrested last October.
Mr Joyce alleged that the “reserved and reclusive” victims were murdered over a bank holiday weekend in May 1998 at their home in Blenheim Close, Forest Town, Mansfield.
He told the jury of eight women and four men: “Over the next 15 years, in order to continue stealing money and to cover up what they had done, these two defendants lied to family members, they lied to neighbours, they lied to doctors, they lied to financial institutions, and they created and used many false documents.
“They lied to everybody. They deceived and tricked everyone into believing that Susan Edwards’s parents, William and Patricia, were still alive. They could then cover up the killings and continue to fund their own lifestyle and help to solve their financial difficulties out of monies that were continuing to be paid to the Wycherleys.”
The prosecutor told the court that the couple stole more than £173,000 from the Wycherleys’ bank accounts, benefits and pensions after the killings.
In 2005, the couple, who were then living in Dagenham, Essex, made a further £66,000 from selling the Wycherleys’ home in Blenheim Close.
Meanwhile, they told neighbours the Wycherleys had moved to Morecambe or Blackpool and Susan Edwards wrote Christmas cards and letters to relatives telling them her parents were travelling in Ireland “because of the good air”.
But the pair fled to France after receiving a letter from the Centenarian Society asking to speak to Mr Wycherley as what would have been his 100th birthday drew near.
The bodies of Mr and Mrs Wycherley lay undiscovered near a fence at their property in Blenheim Close until the couple ran out of money, Mr Joyce told the court.
Christopher Edwards’s stepmother contacted the police after her son asked her for money and told her he had helped his wife to bury her parents 15 years earlier.
The court was told officers discovered Mr and Mrs Wycherley’s bodies wrapped in bedding in a grave measuring between 36in and 40in in depth on October 10, last year. Post-mortem examinations showed the couple had each been shot twice in the upper body.
Police attempted to trace the couple in France and they agreed to return to the UK last October, when they were arrested.
Susan Edwards, 56, has admitted the manslaughter of her mother but denies two counts of murder. Her husband, 57, also denies two counts of murder.
The trial was adjourned until today.