The defence has this afternoon closed its case in the 'Black
Widow' murder trial.
Helen Milner, 50, denies killing second husband Phil Nisbet,
47, by slipping the sedative Phenergan into his evening meal
and, while he was heavily sedated, probably suffocating him.
She is also accused of making his death, on May 4, 2009, look
like suicide in the hope of cashing in the life insurance
Milner also denies attempting to kill him twice on April 15,
Today, on the 11th day of her trial in the High Court at
Christchurch, her defence gave their side of the story.
The jury was told that Milner would not be taking the witness
Instead, four defence witnesses took the stand, including
Milner's close friend of 25 years, Wilma Walsh.
While she accepted she "personally didn't like" Mr Nisbet,
she said Milner "very much loved him".
The court has heard from several witnesses that Milner acted
strangely on the morning of her husband's death.
The first police officers thought her hysterical reaction
amounted to "acting", while other family members and friends
when they saw her later, was showing very little emotion in
But Mrs Walsh told the court that her good friend was indeed
"very upset" when she went round to see her that morning.
"She was quite stressed, but she does have a tendency not to
show her emotions, but that was the way she was brought up,"
She did understand why her husband would take his own life,
Mrs Walsh said.
Milner has also been questioned for a lack of emotion on the
day of the funeral.
But again, her "stoic" demeanour was a product of her
upbringing, Mrs Walsh said.
"She may not have cried, but she was very sad."
Earlier, a former workmate of Mr Nisbet's at Christchurch
distribution firm, Bidvest, told how he seemed different
after the April 15 incidents, when he'd been hospitalised
twice in one day with a suspected spider bite.
"He seemed withdrawn, quieter, his sense of humour wasn't
there. I wouldn't say moody ... but certainly sullen," said
distribution manager Leslie Kennedy.
Also on the stand today was a solicitor who acted for both
Milner and Mr Nisbet in the couple's refinancing after they
met, and later in a separation he took for a final split.
Graham Coumbe thought the couple were still apart when he
learnt Mr Nisbet had died. When he was told they had been
living together, he said it "came as a bit of a surprise".
After Mr Nisbet's death, he said he supported Milner as a
friend, and they had often texted each other. But when he
went to support her at the coronial inquest as a friend, he
ended up representing her as her solicitor.
During the inquest, he raised concerns that an email from
Milner to Mr Nisbet's father had later been "doctored" by the
family, and also raised concerns over some allegations the
family had made towards Milner.
The Crown says Milner was unhappy in her marriage and was
motivated to murder by the prospect of cashing in a $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 tomorrow
when the Crown will give its closing address.
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