Essex couple poisoned with fentanyl by conman trying to steal inheritance

Carol and Stephen were found dead by their daughter in their island home on Easter Sunday 9 April 2023. Neither had any injuries and there was no obvious cause of death.

They had last been seen by D’Wit on Good Friday, 7 April.

In the initial days after the couple’s death, police explored a number of lines of enquiry to establish how and why Carol and Stephen had died.

Carbon monoxide poisoning was quickly ruled out and there was no evidence to suggest either death had been caused by the couple themselves.

 

 

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Some weeks later, toxicology results revealed that both Carol and Stephen had died as a result of lethal doses of fentanyl. A murder investigation was then launched.

When the Baxters’ home was thoroughly searched, we then found a number of items which were not in the home at the time of the Baxters’ deaths, including used fentanyl patches and a false Will.

That short five-part Will – which was not the long-held document held by Stephen and Carol’s solicitors – detailed how the Baxters’ “dear friend” D’Wit would become the director and person of significant control of Carol’s successful bathmat business named Cazsplash, which specialised in curved bathroom mats.

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As a result of these searches and the investigation progressing rapidly, D’Wit was arrested in July and the 34-year-old was subsequently charged with two counts of murder.

 

 

 

 

During the investigation, officers and staff pieced together the lead up to Carol and Stephen’s deaths.

D’Wit first became involved with the couple in 2014, he was introduced to Carol through a mutual friend. He then began working as an IT consultant for Carol’s business.

Through communication analysis, they established D’Wit had created more than 20 personas through which he would communicate with Carol, and – at times – with her daughter.

The personas began when D’Wit created a fictional US-based doctor named “Andrea Bowden” who had experience in dealing with Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune illness with which Carol had been diagnosed.

Through the guise of the supposed doctor, D’Wit would direct Carol’s medical treatment, which led to a continued deterioration in her health.

As well as the fictional doctor, D’Wit also introduced Carol to a number of fictitious people who he had her believe had been treated by Andrea Bowden.

Communication would take place in WhatsApp groups and on email.

Meetings would be arranged but would never happen and D’Wit also practised mimicking a woman’s voice – a fictional ‘Jenny’ – to send voice notes to Carol.

Each communication by these personas were able to be traced back to devices which D’Wit had in his possession.

Convicted

When D’Wit was arrested, we also located a number of fentanyl patches, which he said belonged to his late father, and later claimed to belong to his grandfather.

Officers also found a bag containing a number of metal tacks alongside pill casings, which we strongly believe were previously given to Carol and led to her being admitted to hospital, where x-rays showed the tacks in her stomach.

On Friday 7 April, D’Wit was the last person to see Carol and Stephen alive, when he left their home shortly before 8pm.

We now know he had administered a fatal dose of fentanyl to them and had set up a camera inside their home to monitor them.

In D’Wit’s evidence, he alleged that it was both he and Stephen who were behind the fictitious personas and they were using the characters to ensure Carol felt like she was receiving help for her health and mental health.

When cross-examined, however, his story fell apart as messages between fictitious characters and Stephen Baxter were read aloud, showing there could be no realistic way it could be believed that Stephen was part of D’Wit’s rouse.

An almost six-week trial at Chelmsford Crown Court concluded on Monday. Today, Wednesday 20 March, a jury unanimously found D’Wit, 34, of Churchfields, West Mersea, guilty of both murders. He will be sentenced on Friday 22 March.

Detective Superintendent Rob Kirby, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said:

“There was no bloody murder scene. There was no obvious murder weapon. But Carol and Stephen Baxter’s deaths were cold and calculated acts of murder carried out by a dangerous man who clearly planned to get away with it.
“In all my years in policing, Luke D’Wit is one of the most dangerous men I have come across. I have absolutely no doubt that had he not been caught, he would have gone onto commit further murders.
“He would befriend people and purport to be an upstanding, helpful and kind member of the community. The reality is far more sinister. He is a cold, calculated murderer.
“D’Wit went to great lengths to cover up his tracks. He deceived everyone who knew him, who welcomed him into their family homes and who relied upon him for help, or at least what they believed was help.
“Those lies, and that deception, continued in the evidence he gave in court. Disgracefully, he based his defence on collusion between himself and Stephen Baxter. Stephen is tragically not here to defend himself but from everything we know about him, this could never have been the case.
“Thankfully, the jury saw through his fantasies and gave guilty verdicts.”

Our life will forever be punctured

Harry Baxter, the son of Carol and Stephen Baxter said:

“Luke D’Wit took what we all held most sacred and found a way to extract it for himself.
“Our life will forever be punctured by the gravity of his actions. My eldest daughter will forever have lost the wealth of wisdom and experience my parents possessed.
“My mum was the definition of the word ‘love’. I do not refer to April of 2023. I refer to the day Luke began his foul games torturing and drugging her. Unbeknownst to me, I had already lost my mother a long time ago.
“I feel great sadness looking back on the videos of her when she was acting strangely and seeing him in the background giggling and smiling knowing he’s the one inflicting this pain as we were all dolls in his dollhouse victim to his manipulation.
“My father on the other hand is the definition of intelligence. A critical thinker and problem solver and a person people could absolutely rely on. Most of all thorough to an astounding level of excellence. Revered within his industry, it was almost as if it seemed like he never broke a sweat.
“He sacrificed his life for us to live on and when the days came where he could finally take time and retire and have time to teach me, a young man, naive and keen at the beginning of his adult life it was stolen away by someone we all trusted the most.
“Luke D’Wit completely destroyed everything we held close to our hearts and every memory and future dream we could have shared.
“All I can do now is focus on my family by loving and protecting my partner and baby and our future members of the family. We have the important role of not only mother and father, but also capture the memory of a now sadly lost grandmother and grandfather.”

Ellie Baxter, daughter of Carol and Stephen Baxter said:

“My mum and dad are dead. But they didn’t just die. They were taken from me and my young children. My mum lost her freedom, her will, her ability to function two years prior to her murder due to her illness. An illness no one could help with or understand because it was contrived by Luke D’Wit. Mum felt so alone and lost and there was nothing I could do other then give her my shoulder to cry on and cuddle her.
“My mum was full of life and she always pushed me to be better. We would have girly days out at the spa and plenty of shopping trips. She was my best friend. We would laugh together, cry together and support each other.
“Over the coming years we had planned to go travelling as we both wanted to go to Japan and India. A dream of ours that now can never be fulfilled. My mum loved my son to bits. She would constantly buy him toys and take him out for walks in his pram.
“My dad was a strong man; ‘there are no short cuts in life’ he would always say. He worked every day of his life and provided for mum, my brother and I. There was nothing we ever needed. He loved us all.
“He said my son just fitted perfectly in his arms like my brother and I did. He lit up and he was excited for my new baby. A new baby he never got a chance to meet. We used to stay up late talking and watching horror films.
“Dad also loved to play guitar. In the summer we would have bonfires and the guitar would always come out. Watching my dad play and sing so freely is where my love for music began. Dad initially got my brother Harry into guitar lessons where they would go together and learn then serenade mum and I.
“Never again will I be able to have a jam with my dad neither will my brother.”

A significant and unique investigation

Det Supt Kirby added:

“This was a significant and unique police investigation involving many teams across the force. The download and analysis of D’Wit’s digital devices was one of the most complex we have seen.

“The holes in D’Wit’s false account were opened to expose lies, deceit and calculated planning and he can now look forward to a very long prison sentence.

“We cannot forget the devastating impact this has had on Stephen and Carol’s family and our thoughts will remain with them as they – I truly hope – continue to rebuild their lives.

“I hope there is some comfort for them in knowing that the man responsible is now where he should be.”

Ellie Baxter, daughter of Carol and Stephen Baxter said:

“My mum and dad are dead. But they didn’t just die. They were taken from me and my young children. My mum lost her freedom, her will, her ability to function two years prior to her murder due to her illness. An illness no one could help with or understand because it was contrived by Luke D’Wit. Mum felt so alone and lost and there was nothing I could do other then give her my shoulder to cry on and cuddle her.
“My mum was full of life and she always pushed me to be better. We would have girly days out at the spa and plenty of shopping trips. She was my best friend. We would laugh together, cry together and support each other.
“Over the coming years we had planned to go travelling as we both wanted to go to Japan and India. A dream of ours that now can never be fulfilled. My mum loved my son to bits. She would constantly buy him toys and take him out for walks in his pram.
“My dad was a strong man; ‘there are no short cuts in life’ he would always say. He worked every day of his life and provided for mum, my brother and I. There was nothing we ever needed. He loved us all.
“He said my son just fitted perfectly in his arms like my brother and I did. He lit up and he was excited for my new baby. A new baby he never got a chance to meet. We used to stay up late talking and watching horror films.
“Dad also loved to play guitar. In the summer we would have bonfires and the guitar would always come out. Watching my dad play and sing so freely is where my love for music began. Dad initially got my brother Harry into guitar lessons where they would go together and learn then serenade mum and I.
“Never again will I be able to have a jam with my dad neither will my brother.”

A significant and unique investigation

Det Supt Kirby added:

“This was a significant and unique police investigation involving many teams across the force. The download and analysis of D’Wit’s digital devices was one of the most complex we have seen.

“The holes in D’Wit’s false account were opened to expose lies, deceit and calculated planning and he can now look forward to a very long prison sentence.

“We cannot forget the devastating impact this has had on Stephen and Carol’s family and our thoughts will remain with them as they – I truly hope – continue to rebuild their lives.

“I hope there is some comfort for them in knowing that the man responsible is now where he should be.”

Speaking after the sentencing, DI Lydia George said:

“It is simply impossible to put a number on the lives of Carol and Stephen. They were loving, generous parents. They helped people and touched the lives of many.
“They were entering a period in their lives where they should have been able to enjoy precious time with their grandchildren.
“They should have been planning holidays, looking forward to spending Christmases with family and living their lives to the full.
“Luke D’Wit took all that away in April 2023. He tried to cover it up. He went to great lengths to blame others who we know were not involved in any way.
“He clearly enjoyed the control he exerted over people, especially Carol and Stephen.
“Ultimately, the only person in this world who knows why he acted this way is Luke D’Wit – and he has proven time and time again to be a manipulator.
“What we do know is; the significant sentence handed down today is entirely fitting for the pathological liar that he is.
“For almost a year, we have been determined to secure justice in its entirety. Today marks the conclusion of one of the most complex investigations undertaken at Essex Police.
“37 years in prison, minus the time he has already spent on remand since his arrest, is a significant time and there will come a point where he will have spent more of his life in jail than not.”

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