The woman dubbed the Black Widow "very much loved'' the
husband she's accused of murdering, her trial heard yesterday.
On the 11th and final day of evidence in the High Court at
Christchurch the defence opened, and closed after calling
four witnesses to rebut Crown allegations that Helen Milner,
50, killed Phil Nisbet, 47, by drugging him and, most
probably, suffocating him.
Defence counsel Margaret Sewell reminded the jury it was up
to the Crown to prove the charges and confirmed Milner would
not take the stand herself.
"She has already made two statements to the police and she's
spoken under oath at a coroner's inquest,'' Ms Sewell said.
She asked the jury to use the defence witnesses' evidence as
a "measuring stick for all that other evidence that you have
heard ... we are hoping that you will use their evidence to
think from a different angle''.
Milner has denied murdering Mr Nisbet on May 4, 2009, and two
unsuccessful attempts to kill him on April 15, 2009.
The Crown alleges she sedated him by slipping Phenergan into
his evening meal then killed him, later making his death look
like suicide motivated by a $250,000 life insurance payout.
The defence argued Mr Nisbet took his own life.
A former workmate at Christchurch distribution firm Bidvest
told the court Mr Nisbet seemed different after April 15,
2009 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"He seemed withdrawn, quieter, his sense of humour wasn't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.
Mr Kennedy said he raised Mr Nisbet's health with his
colleague, neighbour and friend Ray Carey, who said Mr Nisbet
was "having problems at home''.
Defence counsel April Kelland took Mr Kennedy through Mr
Nisbet's logbook and timesheets in the weeks before his
Many entries were incomplete and some were missing
altogether, Ms Kelland said.
Mr Kennedy said that was "very strange'' for the normally
A close friend of Milner, Wilma Walsh, said that while she
"personally didn't like'' Mr Nisbet, the accused "very much
She also defended Milner's behaviour on the morning Mr
Nisbet's body was found.
The first police on the scene thought her hysterical reaction
amounted to "acting", while other family members and friends
thought she was showing little emotion given the
Mrs Walsh told the court her friend was "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.''
The court has heard that 50 crushed Phenergan pills could be
dissolved into food until they were "barely visible''.
But an expert defence witness said it would have taken
something like a hot vindaloo curry to disguise its barely
edible, strong bitter taste.
The trial, before Justice David Gendall, continues tomorrow
when the Crown will give its closing address.