A hospital electrician confessed last week to murdering and then sexually assaulting two women in 1987, as well as sexually abusing at least 100 bodies in hospital mortuaries, the Associated Press reported. The British government said Monday that it plans to initiate an independent investigation to uncover how the man was able to go unnoticed while carrying out the widespread abuse.
Police searched 67-year-old David Fuller’s home and found evidence of the two women’s deaths. They also discovered roughly four million images and video recordings of the abuse at two hospitals in southeast England from a period of more than 12 years, the AP reported.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid told lawmakers about the findings while announcing the inquiry. He said that of the 100 victims found so far, 81 had been formally identified. Every family of an identified victim was contacted, and family liaison officers are working to support those families, he added.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
“The inquiry will look into the circumstances surrounding the offenses committed at the hospital, and their national implications,” said Javid, who apologized to the friends and family of the victims.
Javid said the inquiry’s structure will be published in “due course” and that the chairman, named as experienced National Health Service executive Jonathan Michael, will hold talks with the families of the abused. Javid also said the government will look at whether the penalties for such “appalling” sexual offenses are appropriate.
Fuller pleaded guilty on Thursday to murdering Wendy Knell, 25, and Caroline Pierce, 20, in two separate attacks in the town of Tunbridge Wells in 1987. He had previously admitted to sexually abusing bodies in two hospital morgues over 12 years from 2008. Identified victims included three children and others older than 85.
He filmed himself carrying out the attacks at mortuaries inside the now-closed Kent and Sussex Hospital and the Tunbridge Wells Hospital, in Pembury, where he worked in electrical maintenance roles since 1989.
Having evaded justice for 33 years, Fuller was arrested for murder in December following new analysis of decades-old DNA evidence.
Hospitals have been asked to urgently review practices on effective CCTV coverage, with all entry and access points controlled by swipe access, risk assessments and appropriate security checks.
Javid said the inquiry will be split into two parts, with an interim report published early next year and a final report looking at the broader national picture and the wider lessons for the NHS.
“This is a profoundly upsetting case that has involved distressing offenses within the health service,” said Javid. “The victims are not just those family members and friends who have been abused in this most horrific of ways, they are also those that are left behind.”