Murder accused reaction to death 'unusual'

THE BLACK WIDOW: Helen Milner was nicknamed 'The Black Widow' by workmates after asking about access to rat poison.
THE BLACK WIDOW: Helen Milner was nicknamed 'The Black Widow' by workmates after asking about access to rat poison.

Helen Milner was reduced to tears as a court heard audio of the 111 call she made after her husband's death.

The recording played late this afternoon began with Milner telling a woman at the communication's centre "my husband's dead" about 5.46am on May 4, 2009.

The accused killer goes on to tell the call taker that Philip Nisbet had been having trouble with his health.Stricken by grief, she was unable say much more. It ends when ambulance staff arrive.

Milner's first statement 

Milner told police she and her husband had a "lovely day" before she discovered him dead in bed at their home.

As usual, they watched the television show 'Bones' before he had a shave and went to bed.

Milner followed him about an hour later after making his lunch, but got up in the night because her blood sugars were low. She is diabetic.

She fell asleep on the couch and woke the next morning to find him dead at their Halswell home about 5.45am on May 4, 2009.

Details of the accused killer's first statement to police emerged as Detective Richard Prosser, one of the initial investigators, gave evidence at the High Court in Christchurch this afternoon.

Milner, 50, is on trial for the murder and attempted murder of her husband Philip James Nisbet, 47.

The Crown alleges Milner drugged him with Phenergan and then may have suffocated him while he was sedated.

The accused killer was first interviewed by police on May 12, 2009. She was spoken to as a witness in a sudden death enquiry, which was not then deemed suspicious, Prosser said.

"Phil and I had what I would call a normal marriage. We had our ups and downs. The main thing we fought about was kids," Milner said.

"On the whole we were very happy."

The couple married in 2005, but broke up for four months from about November 2006, she said.

"I turfed him out because everything seemed to be getting on top of us."

Her husband was ill, a workaholic, struggled with her health and her son, and had a large tax debt, her statement to police said.

"He was an emotional person and could get very, very uptight very quickly."

She told police she thought her husband died after an overdose of pills.

 "I am angry at him for leaving me. We had made so many plans together. We always wished we had met back when we were teenagers," Milner told police.

"I feel like I have let him down in some way to think he didn't feel he could talk to me if he was that low."

Police believe Milner was 'acting'

Earlier today, two police who attended the scene of Nisbet's death told the jury they felt Milner's behaviour that morning was staged.

"I've never seen anything like it before. She was wailing, there were no tears coming down her face," Sergeant Chris Barker said.

"She appeared to be acting."

Nicknamed 'The Black Widow'

Former Grounds & Services employee Brent Hazeldine said he had regular contact with Milner at the business and some of her colleagues had nicknamed her 'The Black Widow' after asking about access to poison.

Hazeldine said Milner was quite open about problems at home, but did not talk about her husband a lot.

She was a diabetic and told him she thought Nisbet was trying to kill her by adding sugar to her food.

"I might have to get in first," she told him.

He recalled her asking about chemicals "that you could use to do that".

"I honestly didn't think anything from it at the time."

The trial continues.

The Press