The family of murdered Christchurch truck driver Phil
Nisbet say his killer is "clutching at straws'' in her appeal,
heard in Wellington today.
A lawyer for 'Black Widow' Helen Milner told the Court of
Appeal today that she couldn't possibly have laced her second
husband's food with a fatal overdose of drugs without him
tasting the poison.
But after court Mr Nisbet's sister Lee-Anne Cartier laughed
off the legal argument as a "joke''.
"How many guys have the guts to tell their wife that tea
tastes like s***''. Most guys just shut up and eat it,'' she
said after the 90-minute hearing in Wellington today.
Family of both Milner and Mr Nisbet packed into the public
gallery today, including Mr Nisbet's two sons Ben Porter and
Zak Bell, sister Lee-Anne Cartier, brother Andrew Nisbet, and
Milner's two sons Adam and Greg Kearns.
Afterwards, Ms Cartier and brother Andrew Nisbet were
unimpressed by Milner's legal arguments.
"There's just nothing there ... it was a joke. Just another
waste of taxpayers' money,'' Ms Cartier said.
Brother Andrew said she was "clutching at straws ... trying
to turn it into something it's not''.
He said it was again "very stressful'' for the family.
Last December a jury found Milner, 50, guilty of murdering Mr
Nisbet in 2009, and guilty of a second charge of attempting
to kill him a fortnight earlier.
At the High Court in Christchurch, the Crown proved that
Milner had slipped crushed up Phenergan into 47-year old Mr
Nisbet's evening meal and killed him.
She then made his death on May 4, 2009 look like suicide in
the hope of cashing in a $250,000 life insurance policy.
And the mother-of-two nearly got away with it when police
referred the Christchurch delivery driver's death as a
suicide to a coroner.
But the Coroner Sue Johnson raised suspicions which prompted
police to launch a homicide investigation.
In February, Justice David Gendall sentenced Milner to the
statutory life imprisonment and imposed a minimum non-parole
period of 17 years.
But Mr Glover today argued there was no way Milner could have
crushed up between 14 and 233 Phenergan sedative and
anti-histamine pills in delivery driver Mr Nisbet 's food and
given it to him without him knowing something was up.
The jury should have been asked to consider how she managed
that feat, he said.
Expert defence witness Professor Ian Whyte said it would have
required in the region of 45 tablets to achieve level of the
drug found in Mr Nisbet's system.
But he accepted it could've been as low as 14.
"I find it very hard to explain that he wouldn't have been
aware of it, even if it was just 14 tablets,'' Mr Glover
Justice France pointed to evidence from the police officer
who conducted a test showing a meal laced with 25 pills had a
slightly bitter taste but "wasn't so bitter that he wouldn't
Mr Glover said it was far more likely that Mr Nisbet took the
fatal overdose himself.
The Crown said there were many strands to the circumstantial
case, including forged suicide notes, evidence of Milner's
previous attempts to kill him on April 15, 2009, coupled with
the "suspicious circumstances'' where it was alleged Milner
used fake names and addresses to buy Phenergan in the days
leading up to the murderous attempts.
Crown lawyer Mark Lillico said it was "scientifically
dangerous to take a punt'' on how many pills were consumed.
He also reminded the court that Milner's son Adam Kearns gave
testimony that he saw his mum crushing up pills and putting
them into capsules.
The judges reserved their decision.