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Woman: 'I lost it and shot mother'


Susan Edwards

Susan Edwards

Susan Edwards

A woman accused of murdering her parents, burying them in their garden and pretending they were alive for 15 years, has told a jury of the moment she "lost it" and shot her mother.

Former librarian Susan Edwards, 56, with her husband Christopher, 57, is accused of murdering Patricia and William Wycherley in 1998.

Prosecutors have told Nottingham Crown Court the pair killed the elderly couple at their semi in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, before burying them in their garden and then raking in £245,000 by making it seem like they were still alive.

Today, Edwards took to the witness box and told the jury she had gone into her parents' bedroom to find her mother standing over her father, who was dead on the floor.

She said she picked up the gun after her mother had put it on a bed and shot Mrs Wycherley who was provoking her with relentless taunts.

Edwards told the court she had been visiting her parents without her husband over a bank holiday weekend in May 1998 at their home in Blenheim Close, in the Forest Town area of Mansfield, when she was woken in the night by a noise.

"I'm still not exactly sure what it was - a loud noise," she said.

"I got up, went across the landing to see the other bedroom door ajar and the light was on."

Edwards said she went inside the room.

"I saw my father on the floor and my mother standing over him," she said.

"I knew my father was dead. I don't know how I knew, I just knew."

"She (her mother) started saying things to me."

Edwards told the jury that Mrs Wycherley began telling her that she was not wanted as a child, that she knew that her father abused Edwards when she was growing up and that she had had a sexual relationship with Christopher Edwards.

"I picked (the gun) up to keep it from her," Edwards told the jury.

"She kept saying all of these things. She said she knew of my father's abuse.

"She kept saying things over and over again.

"I asked her 'please stop saying these things and go away. Please stop saying these things.'

"She didn't. She kept going on and on.

"It seemed like a long time.

"At some point I lost it. I shot my mother."

Edwards, who has grey parted hair and wears glasses, gave evidence this morning in a quiet voice wearing a navy blue dress with white spots and a blue cardigan.

Prosecutors have told the jury the bodies of Mr and Mrs Wycherley, aged 85 and 63, lay undiscovered from 1998 to 2013.

Their neighbours and relatives were told after their deaths that they had gone travelling or had moved to the coast for health reasons.

The prosecution case is that the Edwards, who married in 1983, had been in severe financial difficulties for much of their relationship and they killed Susan Edwards's parents for the cash, claiming pension money and selling the Wycherleys' house.

The bodies were found buried in their garden in October last year.

Police traced the Edwards in France and the couple agreed to return to the UK when they were arrested.

The jury has been told that Susan Edwards admits the manslaughter of her mother on the basis of provocation.

Christopher and Susan Edwards each deny two counts of murder.

Edwards said her mother was smiling as she taunted her.

Asked by her barrister, David Howker QC, how she felt at that time, she said: "I can't describe how I felt. I just lost control."

And asked if she remembers actually pulling the trigger, Edwards said: "I don't remember the physical act. I know it was more than once but I don't now how many times."

She said she thought she closed her eyes as she fired the weapon.

"I was shocked," she said. "I knew I had done something. It was matricide. It was my mother."

The defendant told the jury: "I remember sitting on the stairs because I thought the police would come."

Edwards said she rang her husband but could not tell him what she had done.

She disposed of the gun in a bin and went to buy air fresheners.

Edwards also said she took off her mother's nightdress and dragged both the bodies under a bed, covering them with duvets.

She destroyed family photographs and other papers and went to a building society where she emptied her parents' account of around £40,000.

Edwards told the jury that her parents drafted a letter before her death giving her permission to close the account on her behalf.

She told the jury she returned to her home in London and still could not tell her husband what happened.

The defendant said she made up a story that her parents were going to Blackpool the following weekend and wanted her to look after their house.

She persuaded her husband to go with her to Mansfield on the coach.

Edwards told her husband what she had done as they sat in her parents' home eating fish and chips.

Her husband wanted to go straight to the police but she persuaded him not to.

"I emotionally blackmailed him," she said.

"I held his arm and pulled him away. He wanted to go to the phone. I used everything in my power - the love between us - for him not to call the police."

She said: "He was in a dreadful state. I was in a dreadful state. He wanted to call the police and I didn't want to call the police.

"We didn't have a vehicle and, of course, I suggested the garden.

"I had to do a lot of persuading. He did not want to do it."

Edwards said her husband dug a hole in the garden and they both dragged the bodies into the garden after it got dark.

They then planted shrubs they had bought from B&Q on top of the grave.

"He was in a terrible state," she told the jury.

"He said we will be found out and he didn't want to do it.

"It affected our marriage. He was upset."

Edwards said her husband was shaking after burying the bodies and had to go inside to be sick.

She insisted that they claimed the couple's pensions simply to allay suspicion.

Yesterday, Christopher Edwards told the jury that he and his wife maintained a long written relationship with French film star Gerard Depardieu over more than a decade, running to perhaps hundreds of letters and notes.

Mr Edwards told the court he only found out during the course of this trial that it had all been fabricated by his wife.

Dafydd Enoch QC, representing Mr Edwards, asked Susan Edwards about this in court today.

"Yes, it was me," she said. "Yes, I was deceiving him (her husband)."

She agreed she had gone to great lengths to keep up the deception, including buying a machine to forge French postmarks and spending hours on each letter.

Asked why, she said: "I don't know exactly."

Edwards agreed with Mr Enoch that she sometimes had difficulty separating out what was reality and what was "unreality" and that "since you were a small child, you have lived in your own world".

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