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A ‘cold and calculated’ IT worker who poisoned a couple with fentanyl after creating a fake will to ensure he benefited financially from their deaths has been found guilty of murder.

Luke D’Wit, 34, was employed by Stephen and Carol Baxter but became so close to them he described himself to police as being ‘like an adopted son’.

But he secretly administered fatal doses of opioid fentanyl – a hundred times more powerful than morphine – into their drinks and ‘watched them die’ on a secret camera before removing incriminating evidence from their million-pound home in the yachting village of West Mersea, Essex.

The Baxters’ daughter Ellie wept as the verdicts were read out. Mr Justice Lavender said sentencing would take place on Friday, adding: ‘Mr D’Wit will be remanded in custody.’

Police initially assumed they had died from carbon monoxide poisoning but tests revealed the substance in their systems and launched a murder investigation.

IT worker, 34, is found guilty of murdering married millionaire couple with FENTANYL before creating fake will that made him director of their bath mat firm the day after couple were found dead

Luke D’Wit in police custody shortly after his arrest on suspicion of murder. He was convicted following a five-week trial at Chelmsford Crown Court

Stephen and Carol Baxter were found dead in the conservatory of their million-pound home in Essex in April last year

Stephen and Carol Baxter were found dead in the conservatory of their million-pound home in Essex in April last year

Police searching their home found this fake will D'Wit prepared to insert himself into their business as a 'person with significant control'

Police searching their home found this fake will D’Wit prepared to insert himself into their business as a ‘person with significant control’

The home of the millionaire tycoon husband and wife in Essex where their bodies were found

The home of the millionaire tycoon husband and wife in Essex where their bodies were found 

D’Wit – who added a clause to the couple’s wills stating he was to be made a director of their specialist shower mats firm Cazsplash – was found to have packets of fentanyl at the nearby home he shared with his mother. 

The drug had been prescribed to his father, who died of cancer in 2021.

He denied any involvement in the Baxters’ deaths during a five-week trial at Chelmsford Crown Court but was convicted unanimously by the jury today after they began their deliberations on Monday.

Fentanyl: The painkiller 100 times stronger than morphine that is now a favourite among heroin users

By Andrew Levy

Fentanyl was originally designed as a painkiller but has been adopted by the illegal drug market, where it is often added to heroin.

But it is around 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine, with even a small dose potentially being deadly – leading to concerns about an epidemic of deaths among people who misuse it.

In 2008 there were just eight fatalities from fentanyl poisoning in the UK. By 2017, this has soared to 135, according to a 2020 report commissioned by the Home Office.

Synthetic opioids like fentanyl have been linked to thousands of deaths in the US.

The Class A synthetic drug is prescribed for severe chronic pain or breakthrough pain that fails to respond to regular painkillers. It is often prescribed for cancer patients.

Delivery is via an injection or patch on the arm. It can also be taken in a throat lozenge.

It works by mimicking endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, which block pain messages to the brain. This also causes feelings of euphoria.

Typical overdose symptoms include slow and difficult breathing, nausea and vomiting, cold, clammy skin, trouble walking or talking, and unresponsiveness.

The treatment for an overdose is usually naloxone, which blocks the effect of opioids by attaching to receptors in the body, although several doses may be needed for fentanyl.

Drug addicts can get hold of the substance as powders or pills or put it into containers such as eyedroppers or nasal sprays. It can also be smoked or injected.

Street names for the drug include Apache, China Girl, Goodfellas, Great Bear, Poison and Tango & Cash.

Withdrawal symptoms include vomiting and diarrhoea, anxiety, insomnia, runny nose, hot and cold flushes and dilated pupils.

The 2020 report by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs warned the introduction of fentanyl and other opioids into the illegal UK market was ‘of great concern’, according to chairman Professor Owen Bowden-Jones.

He said: ‘To respond to this emerging threat, we must carefully examine the lessons learnt in other countries, particularly the US and Canada, to understand and implement effective interventions.’

Detectives say D’Wit is among the ‘most dangerous’ people they have ever encountered because of the way in which he killed his victims, and believe he would have gone on to become a serial killer if he hadn’t been stopped.

The bodies of Mr and Mrs Baxter were found in armchairs in the conservatory of their five-bedroom detached home by their daughter Ellie, 22, and her partner Marcus Young, on April 9 last year.

In a harrowing 999 call, Ellie could be heard wailing: ‘They’re poisoned. They’re dead. They’re frozen.’

D’Wit, who had worked at Cazsplash for ten years, was one of the first people they contacted and in court he described how he ‘literally ran’ from his home five minutes away.

But when it became clear the deaths were not a tragic accident, he became a suspect – along with Ellie and Mr Young, although their involvement was later ruled out.

When police searched the Baxters’ home, they found items that were not there at the time of their deaths – including fentanyl patches and a fake will.

The will, which was not held by the couple’s solicitors, described D’Wit as a ‘dear friend’ who would take control of their company – immediately arousing detectives’ suspicions

D’Wit – a ‘nerd’ who held a degree in computer science but had little social life and whose friends thought was asexual – ingratiated himself by carrying out chores for the Baxters, particularly mother-of-four Mrs Baxter, 64, who had an autoimmune condition that affected her thyroid and also had a pacemaker.

He would make sure she took her medication and often made her and her husband, 61, ‘disgusting’ herbal remedies and smoothies.

The prosecution said D’Wit had been preparing drinks for them since 2022, including their ‘final cup’ on the day of their deaths.

He had created more than 20 fake online personas, purporting to be from doctors and support groups among others, to ‘manipulate’ the family.

One email from a bogus expert the day before the couple died suggested they have a drink made from hot water, aspirin and lemon juice.

Giving evidence in court, D’Wit claimed Mr Baxter, a senior executive with an international property firm, had asked him to invent the bogus characters and helped him draft messages from them to encourage his wife to take her medication – but the jury saw through the deception.

Police also found D’Wit in possession of capsules of the drug promethazine, an antihistamine used in over-the-counter cold medicines, which had been specially adapted to contain four times the usual potency using a makeshift pestle and mortar.

The drug was also found in lethal quantities in Mrs Baxter’s blood and was a contributory cause of her death.

D’Wit was also convicted of possession of a Class A drug and theft, in relation to some of former adult educator Mrs Baxter’s jewellery that was hidden behind a sofa at his home.

Speaking outside court, Detective Superintendent Rob Kirby warned D’Wit had developed a taste for murder.

He said: ‘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 of 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 to commit further murders.’

Luke D’Wit, 33, poisoned his millionaire bosses with the powerful prescription opioid fentanyl by slipping it into their drinks

CCTV from a doorbell camera showing D'Wit leaving the Baxters' house on the day he poisoned them with fentanyl

CCTV from a doorbell camera showing D’Wit leaving the Baxters’ house on the day he poisoned them with fentanyl

Stephen and Carol were found dead sitting in their individual armchairs in their conservatory on Easter Sunday - April 9 - last year

Stephen and Carol were found dead sitting in their individual armchairs in their conservatory on Easter Sunday – April 9 – last year

The couple were found at home by their daughter Ellie - pictured here leaving court during D'Wit's murder trial

The couple were found at home by their daughter Ellie – pictured here leaving court during D’Wit’s murder trial

He added: ‘Historically we have seen that a serial killer will kill and then rest and then strike again.

‘I can’t say why they would do that but he certainly enjoyed controlling people in a subtle and unobvious way.

‘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 where he should be.’

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