Poisoning trial: Accused not taking stand

Helen Milner will not be taking the witness stand during her High Court murder trial, her defence told the jury today.

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 Crown alleges, in the hope of cashing in the life insurance cash.

Today, on the 11th day of her trial at the High Court at Christchurch, her defence opened their case.

Counsel Margaret Sewell reminded the jury that it was up to the Crown to prove the charges against Milner.

She confirmed that Milner will not be giving evidence for the defence.

"She has already made two statements to the police and she's spoken under oath at a coroner's inquest," Ms Sewell said.

Over the last two weeks, the jury has heard from around 70 witnesses, many who were interviewed by police more than two years after the death, which police originally ruled as suicide.

Ms Sewell said despite the popular saying about hindsight, it is actually "far from a wonderful thing".

"There were many witnesses who were asked to recall answers to questions two years later, and the defence will say to you that these questions ... were particular questions only, pointing towards particular answers."

The defence will today call four witnesses, including a former workmate of Mr Nisbet's at Christchurch distribution firm, Bidvest.

Ms Sewell asked that the jury uses the defence witnesses' evidence as a "measuring stick for all that other evidence that you have heard, from lay witnessing day after day.

"We are hoping that you will use their evidence to think from a different angle."

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.

The trial, before Justice David Gendall, continues.

- Kurt Bayer of APNZ

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