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Julie Beards Found Guilty

A woman has been found guilty of the manslaughter of a student with learning difficulties.

Julie Beards blamed her husband for the murder of Susan Whiting, 20, who was drugged, raped and killed in August, Leicester Crown Court heard.

Steven Beards, 34, had already been convicted of rape and murder of the Walsall student and sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 33 years.

Julie Beards, 36, who also has learning difficulties, denied murder.

Her husband, whom the judge described as “a sexually motivated violent killer” denied the charges.

Miss Whiting went to stay the night with the Beards on 16 August, which she had done before. She had become friends with Julie Beards through a local adult community centre. The following day she was reported missing to the police.

The couple from Bloxwich in Walsall told the student’s mother she had left their home safe and well, but the next day police found her body wrapped in a shower curtain under a bed in their house. Miss Whiting was raped after her food had been laced with a ‘sedating hypnotic drug’ Zoplicone, and died of a fractured skull when she had been struck on the head at least three times, the jury heard.

Steven Beards, who has also been convicted of rape, told the court he had “no idea” how evidence of his sperm had been found on Miss Whiting. Miss Whiting’s mother, Maureen, paid tribute to her daughter saying: “She was just 20 years old, an easy-going, loving young lady, enjoying her life. I know she was loved and will be missed by so many people”.