The chilling true story of Landscapers couple who buried their parents in the garden – to get £300k for film memorabilia

NEIGHBOURS of Patricia and William Wycherley believed the couple had left their sleepy village near Mansfield— but really they were dead and buried in a shallow grave in their own back garden.

They'd been shot dead by their own daughter, Susan — who Olivia Colman is now playing in her new drama, Landscapers which starts Tuesday 7.

Susan Edwards, with the help of her husband Christopher, murdered her parents in order to plunder their bank accounts, splurging thousands on celebrity autographs and other Hollywood memorabilia.

The couple managed to get away with their crime committed in Forest Town, Notts., for 15 years, forging letters and documents to make it seem as though the Wycherleys were still alive.

But eventually their elaborate web of lies unravelled and they handed themselves in to cops in Lille after fleeing to France.

Now Oscar-winning actor Colman, 47, is taking the lead role in a four-part Sky series written by her husband, Ed Sinclair, about the murders.

Colman revealed to Sky News that her husband had uncovered a fresh side to the villainous couple.

She said: "I felt sympathetic towards them early on because of what Ed had been finding out.

"He spoke to her solicitor who said she was a very shy, gentle, well-read, [a] nice woman.

"And you go, 'okay, well that's not what everyone has told us?!'"

Colman added: "We find out, through the programme, she faced abuse at the hands of her father as a little girl, and I think it's her escapism to sort of imagine men [can be] heroic and that she finally meets her knight in shining armour."

Her co-star Harry Potter actor David Thewlis added the truth was stranger than fiction.

He said: "I was amazed when I googled the real story to find out how much of it is completely true and actually the truth bits are the most bizarre bits."

This is the shocking true story behind the drama series — which landed the Edwardses in prison for life.

Dumped in a shallow grave

The couple's grim plot to get away with murder began with a bang on the May bank holiday weekend of 1998.

Christopher shot Patricia and William Wycherley twice with a Second World War revolver inside the back bedroom of the victims' semi-detached home.

Neighbours would later testify they'd seen Christopher "up to his waist" digging in the garden that day — he was digging their graves.

Under the cover of darkness, he and Susan wrapped the pensioners' bodies in a duvet and carried them downstairs and into the garden where they buried the couple.

With the Wycherleys gone, the Edwardses set about covering up their cold-blooded crime in a deceit which would last 15 years.

They would regularly travel from their own home in Dagenham, east London, up to the house near Mansfield to maintain the garden.

Christopher would pose as the Wycherleys' nephew and the killers told neighbours and relatives their victims had moved away to various places, including to Ireland for the "good air".

They also wrote letters and cards pretending to be the Wycherleys to keep the ruse rolling.

One 2005 letter purportedly from Patricia declining an appointment at a chest clinic said she was "feeling better" and was staying with relatives.

And in a 2011 Christmas card sent to relatives about her parents' travels in Ireland, Susan said it "is good to see them with such zest".

Of course, they'd already been dead and buried for 13 years.

Killed for cash

Investigators would later argue the Edwardses had been motivated to carry out their crime by two things: money and revenge.

It's thought that the Wycherleys had kept an inheritance from Susan's step-grandmother that was meant for Susan, and the murders were part of a dark plot to reclaim the cash.

On the first working day after the killings, Susan swiped £40,000 from her parents' accounts.

Eventually, the couple would end up stealing some £286,285 from their victims.

They did this by diverting the Wycherley's pensions and benefits to themselves, and they even applied for loans and credit cards in the dead couple's name.

And the Edwardses pocketed £66,000 from the sale of the Mansfield house where the Wycherleys were secretly buried.

Despite the cash grab, they still ended up owing £160,000 to creditors at the time of their arrest thanks to splurging thousands on strange items — including signed photos of 1950s film star Gary Cooper.

"They didn't lead a particularly lavish lifestyle," Det Ch Insp Rob Griffin, of the East Midlands major crime unit, told the BBC.

"It would seem that the vast majority of their money was spent on memorabilia, on authenticated autographed items on people that they admired.

"Its staggering to think that's what they spent their money on, but that's what they did."

Justice served

Eventually the money ran out — and their lies came crashing down as they asked another relative for cash.

As Mr Wycherley's 100th birthday approached, the Department for Work and Pensions wrote to him requesting a face-to-face interview.

Susan and Christopher found the letter and panicked, fleeing London for Lille in northern France.

There, they quickly ran out of money and Christopher called his own elderly stepmother asking for cash, relaying a wild story about why they'd fled.

He said Mrs Wycherley had shot her own husband, and then Susan had shot Mrs Wycherley after being provoked.

Instead of going along with it, Christopher's stepmother called the police, who in turn found the bodies buried in the garden.

A month after the murder investigation was launched in 2013, Det Ch Insp received a surprising email marked high importance — it was from Christopher.

"Later on today we are going to surrender ourselves to the UK Border Force Authorities at the Eurostar terminal at Lille Europe station," it read.

"We would prefer to do this … since my wife is already sufficiently frightened. Please could you notify the UK Border Force at Lille Europe so that they may expect us."

They were arrested and, at trial back in Britain, they admitted obstructing a coroner in the execution of his duty and pleaded guilty to theft of a credit balance from a bank account.

But they stuck to their story about the killings, denying that they'd murdered the Wycherleys.

They were found guilty in 2014, with the judge calling Susan "an accomplished liar and a fantasist".

The Edwardses were sentenced to life with a minimum of 25 years each.

A release date for Landscapers has yet to be announced but filming on the Sky Atlantic and Now TV show is underway.

Alongside Olivia Colman, David Thewlis stars as Christopher.

"This is without doubt the very finest project I have worked on for many years,” says Thewlis, who played Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter films.

“Everything about Landscapers is magical, there is nothing like it and I’m impatient to get to work so that its brilliance can be shared with the rest of the world.”

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