16 Dec 2013

Murder defence wraps in four hours

8:41 pm on 16 December 2013

The defence for a woman accused of murdering her husband has taken just over four hours to present its case to the jury at the High Court in Christchurch.

Mrs Milner, 50, is accused of killing her husband, Philip Nisbet, by mixing a lethal dose of antihistamine into his evening meal in May 2009 and then attempting to make it look like a suicide. She denies the charges.

Her lawyer, Margaret Sewell, opened Mrs Milner's defence on Monday by telling the jurors four witnesses would be called to provide balance to the evidence they heard from the 74 Crown witnesses.

Wilhelmina Walsh, a friend of Mrs Milner for 22 years, disputed evidence from other witnesses that the accused's reaction to the death did not seem normal.

A friend of 22 years, Wilhelmina Walsh, disputed evidence from other witnesses that Mrs Milner's reaction to the death didn't seem normal.

"She was quite upset, quite vague. She wasn't her normal self. Under the circumstances that's understandable," Mrs Walsh said.

"She was quite distressed but she does have a tendancy to not show a lot of emotion so it's really hard."

Mrs Milner was a stoic person who had been raised to not show emotion, Mrs Walsh told the court.

Earlier, Mr Nisbet's former employer said he noticed changes in his mood in the weeks before his death.

Lesley Kennedy told the court that on a routine run on 15 April 2009, Mr Nisbet, who was a truck driver, collapsed and was taken to hospital.

He said in the weeks after the reported collapse he thought Mr Nisbet seemed withdrawn, quieter and did not have the same sense of humour as before. However, Mr Nisbet said he was okay when asked.

Mr Kennedy also gave evidence that in April 2009, a month before he died, Mr Nisbet's recordings of his time sheets and log book became sporadic and were often left incomplete.

Court told of abusive call and texts

The real estate agent who was selling the house shared by Mrs Milner and Mr Nisbet told the court he received abusive phone calls and messages from Mr Nisbet's family.

Mark Sutherland said after Mr Nisbet's death, Mrs Milner asked him to sell the house they shared.

He told the court he received an abusive call from Mr Nisbet's sister, Lee-Anne Cartier, followed by text messages.

He said part of the text read: "I would hate a so-called innocent by-stander to get burnt."

Mr Sutherland said his response was that he would forward the text to the police.

Both the defence and prosecution will sum up on Tuesday, before the jury retires to consider its verdict on Wednesday.