The Crown said Helen Milner gave husband Phil Nisbet
crushed Phenergan tablets. Photo / Martin Hunter
Black Widow murderer Helen Milner's first husband has
broken his silence on their marriage - and revealed how she
almost destroyed his relationship with their children.
Mark Robert Kearns and his second wife Dawn said Helen Milner
was motivated by money and fuelled by lies.
Speaking at his Christchurch home last night, Mr Kearns
described a manipulative woman who said what she needed to to
get what she wanted.
"She got what she deserves," said Mr Kearns, after a jury
found Milner guilty of murdering second husband Phil Nisbet
Mr Kearns and Milner split 20 years ago after seven years of
He said Milner lied in the Family Court to gain custody of
their two sons - then told them he'd moved to Australia and
didn't want anything to do with them,
"It was bullshit. I did my absolute best for the boys and had
no-show. It was not just the lies to me ... No matter what I
spent with lawyers - 20-odd grand for a children's lawyer -
she managed to put a stop to all that."
The truckie couldn't bring himself to attend her trial.
He followed it through the media and kept a watchful eye on
the emotions of his sons, who both gave key evidence against
"I had a gut feeling all the way throughout that she was
guilty," said Mr Kearns. "I said that to anyone that asked me
- she's done it."
Dawn Kearns said her relationship with her husband was lucky
to survive Milner's efforts to break them up.
"She tried all sorts of tactics too. Not trying to kill him,
but she wanted to get rid of him, get him out of the house.
"It was money right through with her. It's always been money.
"Like the time she took her car to the [Waimakariri Rriver]
burnt it out and claimed insurance. She did that too - got
full insurance on the car."
The Crown argued Milner poisoned Mr Nisbet then faked his
death to look like suicide, motivated by a $250,000 life
Financial advisor Stephen Westcombe told Milner's trial in
the High Court at Christchurch that she was with Mr Nisbet
when the policy was taken out in 2007.
"I'm not 100 per cent certain but it may have been Helen
Milner that filled out the form on Mr Nisbet's behalf. I do
believe Helen filled in some forms."
Her murder conviction means she's ineligible for the life
insurance payout, which was put on hold after insurers AXA
were told of the homicide investigation into Mr Nisbet's
death by his sister Lee-Ann Cartier.
"We are in the process of determining the legal recipients of
the proceeds of the insurance policy," a spokeswoman for AMP,
which merged with AXA in 2011, said yesterday.
Financial Services Council chief executive Peter Neilson said
such cases are rare.
"If you purposefully burn your own house down after taking
out a fire insurance policy then you cannot be a beneficiary
of your own actions regarding an insurance claim," he said.
"But on the other hand, that doesn't mean to say anybody's
else should be tainted by that illegality. So it may be
someone else may have some eligibility based on the
circumstances on the person has died."
Milner was found guilty of one charge of murder and one of
attempted murder. She was found not guilty of a second charge
of attempted murder.
She will be sentenced in February.
Mr Kearns, meanwhile, will continue to work hard on
strengthening his good relationships with his sons Adam, now
22, and Greg, now 24.
He hopes they can get on with their lives and make up for
"You've got to put it behind you and move on."