The first police officer on the scene of Phil Nisbet's sudden
death raised concerns over the "convenience" of his wife
receiving a texted suicide note in front of him, a court
Helen Milner, 50, denies fatally poisoning second husband Mr
Nisbet, 47, and making it look like a suicide.
The Crown alleges she killed him, most probably by slipping
up to 50 crushed tablets of anti-histamine drug and sedative
Phenergan into his food, then smothering him with a pillow.
She then sent herself a text message purporting to be from
her husband that read: "I'm sorry honey, I can't keep going
on like this," the Crown alleges.
Today, at Milner's trial in the High Court at Christchurch,
Sergeant Christopher Barker, said he called in his superiors
when Milner turned on her phone and received the text while
they were there. He thought the timing "convenient".
Mr Barker said he chatted privately with colleague Constable
Grant Cowan and "raised some concerns about how things had
been unfolding" at the scene.
They thought Milner's prolonged display of hysteria amounted
to an "unnatural reaction".
Also, the house in Halswell, Christchurch, was "freezing
cold", he said, and they wondered how she could have slept on
the couch in such low temperatures, as she claimed.
Mr Barker also had concerns about how Mr Nisbet was found in
his bed, on an angle.
Milner, a diabetic, had told them she'd been in bed until 2am
when she got up to eat and administer some insulin before
retiring to the couch.
Mr Barker said the bed "didn't look disturbed at all".
The Crown alleges Milner was determined to kill her husband
and cash in a $250,000 life insurance policy.
On the first two days of her trial, the court heard she
plotted the best way to do it, asking friends and workmates
for views on poisoning methods, and offering to pay a hitman
She asked colleagues if Mitre 10 sold rat poison and whether
it would kill a person, the court heard.
Her statements were shrugged off by co-workers who joked
behind her back about whether she'd put rat poison in the
"We thought the whole thing was a bit of a joke," one told
Nicholas Rosewarne, another colleague at Christchurch-based
grounds maintenance firm GSL, said the office administrator
had "gloated" about an affair with "one of her truckie mates"
while her husband was out of town.
The court earlier heard that new boyfriend Barry Hayton had
moved into her home within a month of Mr Nisbet's death.
The Crown alleges she unsuccessfully tried to kill him on two
occasions before succeeding on May 4, 2009.
Milner denies two charges of attempted murder and one of
Despite the initial fears of the attending officers, police
originally ruled Mr Nisbet had taken his own life.
However, after a coroner raised doubts over the death, a
homicide probe was launched and more than two years later
Milner was charged with murder.
The trial, before Justice David Gendall, continues tomorrow.
- By Kurt Bayer of APNZ