Milner's son testifies against her

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 12:22 09/12/2013

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The son of murder accused Helen Milner says he found his mother crushing powder after she had spoken repeatedly of wanting to "get rid" of her husband and talked about how to do it.

Adam Kearns told the sixth day of Milner's trial that she had spoken of putting crushed glass in the mashed potatoes or poisoning Philip Nisbet with drugs, Phenergan, or sleeping pills.

"I laughed it off, along with everyone else," said Kearns, 22, Milner's son from an earlier marriage.

Milner, 50, is charged with the attempted murder of Phillip James Nisbet in April 2009, and his murder a month later when the Crown alleges she gave him the anti-allergy and sedative Phenergan in his evening meal, and then suffocated him while he lay sedated in bed.

She has denied the charges at her trial before Justice David Gendall and a jury in the High Court in Christchurch. The defence says Nisbet's death was suicide.

Kearns said he lived intermittently with his mother and stepfather at their Halswell house before Nisbet's death.

He had hoped to get a home detention sentence there because he needed a stable address and support around him.

The situation at the home was "unnormal – things weren't right", he said.

His mother had said she had had enough and she wanted to deal with Nisbet. "Get rid of him", was what she said.

"I laughed it off, along with everyone else. I didn't think my mother would be capable of that."

It started off subtly but she mentioned it repeatedly and gave more detail about how she wanted to do it, he said. She discussed putting crushed glass in the mashed potatoes, or poisoning him.

One evening, he got up and found her in the kitchen with powder ground up and some empty capsules. Nisbet was in bed. Milner looked shocked and guilty to see Kearns.

He asked her what she was doing, and she said she was not going to do it. He recalled the powder had a bluey-white tinge to it.

There was a heated argument.

Kearns said she was sick in the head and "not my mother any more". He called her a murderer. He said he would be moving out next day.

Milner became upset, in tears, and begged forgiveness.

Kearns said he could not bring himself to go to the police but he tried to tell Nisbet about it. He also laughed it off.

Kearns read off records before the court to show an angry and threatening exchange of texts that followed Nisbet's death.

Milner texted: "I promise I did not do it. I could not live with myself if I did."

She said there had been four pill packets in his drawer, but he texted back: "You tried it before."

Kearns texted Milner: "I want to see the suicide note before I believe it was him."

He told the trial that Milner had sworn on the life of his unborn son that she had not done it.

He accused her of going back on a promise she had made to Nisbet's son and texted her, "All you care about is money."

After another angry exchange, he texted Milner: "Bring it on murderer."

"I'm going to make a statement against you now," he told her.

He let her know he would show the police her texts.

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"Cool. Go make an idiot of yourself," she replied. "Have you heard of blackmail?"

Kearns replied: "Have you heard of murder?"

He spoke of her promising $20,000 if anything happened to Nisbet.

"It was money she had offered my brother and other people to make something happen."

That was several weeks before the death.

The trial is continuing.

- The Press

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