Helen Milner's boyfriend took the stand today in her
high-profile murder trial to confirm that he had moved in
with her a month after she allegedly murdered her second
Milner, 50, denies killing Phil Nisbet, 47, by slipping the
sedative Phenergan into his evening meal and, while he was
heavily sedated, probably finishing him off with a pillow.
She then made his death on May 4, 2009 look like suicide, the
Today, on the ninth day of her murder trial in the High Court
at Christchurch, the jury heard from Barry Hayton, who - four
years on - is standing by the murder accused.
The court heard that he visited her in prison as recently as
Milner was an old flame, he told the court today, saying they
had been together for about five years before splitting up
around 2002 or 2003.
When Mr Nisbet died, he was with another woman, and said he
had not spoken to Milner for around 12 to 18 months until she
phoned the next day to say he had died.
After going to the funeral, he was soon suggesting to her
that they get back together. Three weeks after the death,
which police originally ruled as a suicide, Mr Hayton told
her that he loved her.
Mr Nisbet's elderly parents from Australia had been staying
with her while they attended the funeral.
When they went back home on May 24, Milner texted Mr Hayton
to say she had found a "confession suicide note".
She said Mr Nisbet had found out his youngest son Ben wasn't
his, and that he had been cheating and the other woman had
been blackmailing him. Mr Hayton told the court that he never
saw the note.
The court has heard from numerous family members and friends
of the deceased and the accused that they thought the suicide
note shown to them by Milner was a forgery.
Milner denies murdering Mr Nisbet on May 4, 2009, as well as
attempting to kill him twice on April 15, 2009.
The Crown says Milner was unhappy in her marriage and was
motivated to murder by the prospect of cashing in the
$250,000 life insurance policy.
She plotted the best ways to kill her husband - buying drugs
under false names, asking friends for views on poisoning
methods and even offering to pay $20,000 for a hitman to kill
Mr Nisbet, it is alleged.
Mr Hayton split up with his then partner on May 28, spent a
week at his bach at Motunau in North Canterbury, before
moving in to the Checketts Ave, Halswell home that Milner
owned in early June.
He was asked today by Crown prosecutor Brent Stanaway about
an engagement ring the court has heard was bought by Milner
at a Christchurch mall on July 12, 2009 - two months after
her husband's death.
Mr Hayton confirmed he paid for the $2299 gold and diamond
engagement ring with Milner, but denied it signified them
Instead, he claimed it was a "friendship ring", which drew
laughter from a packed public gallery, made up of family
members of Mr Nisbet and Milner.
Asked what finger the 'friendship ring' was worn on by
Milner, Mr Hayton said: "Um, trying to think, probably
wedding finger, something around there. I'm not sure - I
didn't put it on the finger, I'm sorry."
The trial before Justice David Gendall continues, with the
final Crown witness due to give evidence.
- By Shelley Robinson of The Star and Kurt Bayer of