Murder victim's sister to accept police offer

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Last updated 05:00 06/08/2014
Helen Milner
HELEN MILNER
Lee-Anne Cartier
DANIEL TOBIN/Fairfax NZ
LEE-ANNE CARTIER: Her investigations helped bring Milner to justice.

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The amateur detective who helped expose murderer Helen Milner plans to accept a settlement offer from police, believed to be worth thousands of dollars.

Lee-Anne Cartier said she was unable to discuss the nature of the agreement because she was bound by confidentiality.

However, it is understood to be a fraction of the tens of thousands of dollars she sought to cover the costs she incurred trying to expose her brother's killer.

Milner, 50, was found guilty last year of murdering her husband Philip James Nisbet, 47, by feeding him a fatal dose of the antihistamine and sedative drug Phenergan.

He was found dead in bed at the couple's home in Halswell in May 2009. She was also found guilty of attempting to murder Nisbet in a similar fashion about three weeks earlier.

In February, Milner - dubbed the Black Widow - was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years.

Yesterday, the Court of Appeal rejected an appeal against her convictions. Nisbet's family said the decision came as a relief.

Cartier said police had approached her with the settlement offer yesterday. The figures involved were "an insult" but she planned to agree to the terms because she had many bills that had to be paid.

"It doesn't come close to covering the outstanding debts relating to the money I spent ... as a result of the police failing at their investigation," Cartier said.

"I find it concerning police are happy to waste taxpayers' money on detectives who do a half-arsed job, but aren't willing to meet the expenses of those who take up the slack."

A police spokesman said discussions with Cartier were ongoing. He declined to comment further.

At a hearing in Wellington last month, lawyer Rupert Glover argued there was no way Milner could have crushed up a fatal dose of Phenergan tablets and added them to her husband's dinner without him being able to taste it.

Nisbet had committed suicide, Glover said. Yesterday the Court of Appeal ruled that the jury was within its rights to rule out the possibility of suicide based on the evidence it heard.

It was not necessary for the prosecution to prove exactly how Milner delivered the drug to her husband, the court's judgment said. "The mechanics of administering the drug was simply one factor for the jury to weigh up in the context of a strong circumstantial case."

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An internal police report said Milner may have got away with murder had it not been for Cartier's sleuthing and the keen eye of a coroner. It said detectives made basic errors during an initial investigation that concluded Nisbet committed suicide.

A homicide inquiry was started only after a coroner found there no evidence that the truck driver intended to kill himself.

Milner was arrested and charged with murder in October 2011. The jury later heard she was motivated by Nisbet's $250,000 life insurance policy.

- The Press

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