West Mersea murder accused helped trick wife before deaths - court


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Prosecutors said this recording featured Mr D'Wit impersonating a woman

Prosecutors said this recording featured Mr D'Wit impersonating a woman

A man accused of fatally poisoning a married couple said the husband helped him create fake personalities to trick the wife, a court heard.

Carol, 64, and Stephen Baxter, 61, were found dead at their home in West Mersea, Essex, on 9 April.

Luke D'Wit, 34, is standing trial at Chelmsford Crown Court charged with their murder.

Giving evidence, he said he and Mr Baxter created false identities to "help" with Mrs Baxter's "anxieties".

Mrs Baxter spoke to these people about her thyroid condition, Hashimoto's.

Stephen and Carol Baxter were discovered unresponsive at their seaside home in April 2023

Tracy Ayling KC, prosecuting, has claimed that Mr D'Wit, of Churchfields in the town, administered a fatal dose of the opioid painkiller fentanyl two days before their bodies were discovered.

Mr D'Wit had worked for their shower mat business Cazsplash and, as they grew closer, had started to help them with day-to-day errands, jurors have been told.

False identities

Mr D'Wit told jurors how the "lovely, bubbly, outgoing" Mrs Baxter had "vanished" after she lost between £140,000 and £200,000 to a trading scam in 2019.

He told the court that her anxiety grew and her condition worsened due to the trauma of losing the money.

Mr D'Wit is accused of creating several fake identities used to "manipulate" Mrs Baxter - including a doctor, several other Hashimoto's sufferers and their acquaintances.

The defendant admitted being involved in their creation but said it was Mr Baxter who came up with the idea.

The couple were found dead in the conservatory by their daughter

"Steve just had the idea that Carol needed someone to talk to. Someone she can air all her grievances to, that it would help her anxieties," said Mr D'Wit.

"So, based on someone I had [already] met, we created an email so Carol could talk to someone.

"As Carol's behaviour and illness worsened, I thought - Steve and I thought - that more identities [would help]."

Mr D'Wit told the jury that Carol wanting to meet face-to-face with the fake identities was "a constant problem".

Asked about the alias of "Dr Bowden", the defendant said: "The actual mechanics was me, but it was instructions from Stephen."

Mr D'Wit claimed another identity, named Jenny, a theatre producer who could help the couple's daughter Ellie, 22, with a career as a vocalist, was also Mr Baxter's "idea".

He said the husband would use another fake woman's identity to encourage his wife to go on trips with him because they "didn't always get on".

Another made-up doctor was created to advise Mrs Baxter about her "gut problems", the defendant added.

Luke D'Wit was filmed using body-worn camera footage when he was arrested at his office at the University of Essex

The defendant, being cross-examined by Adam Davis KC, said he was at the couple's house on 7 April - two days before their bodies were found - to discuss plans for the future of Cazsplash.

He said that upon hearing they had been found unresponsive on Easter Sunday, he "ran" to their house as he "knew it was serious".

Mr D'Wit denied there was a "sinister" motive for the false identities, and said they were used by Mr Baxter to improve his wife's health and their relationship.

Prosecutor Ms Ayling said Mr D'Wit was "making his defence up" and suggested Mr Baxter would have been "horrified" to be included in Mr D'Wit's defence.

The defendant maintained it was Mr Baxter's idea.

The trial continues.

Additional reporting by PA Media

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