Court hears of lights on in bedroom

ACCUSED: Helen Milner listens to evidence while on trial for the murder of her husband.
ACCUSED: Helen Milner listens to evidence while on trial for the murder of her husband.

A neighbour saw lights on in Helen Milner's bedroom more than an hour before she called 111 and told the operator her husband was dead, a court has heard.

Raymond Carey said his wife was hanging out the washing when she spotted the lights on at the home in Checketts Ave, Halswell, about 4.20am on May 4, 2009.

The court has previously heard that Milner made a 111 call to say her husband, Philip James Nisbet, was dead about 5.45am the same day.

The evidence emerged late yesterday during day seven of a three-week trial at the High Court in Christchurch.

Carey also joined a growing list of people who have said they were shown a suicide note, supposedly written by Nisbet, complete with a hand-written signature. The suicide note given to police was not the same because the signature was missing, he told the jury.

Milner, 50, is charged with the murder and attempted murder of Nisbet, 47, who was found dead in bed at the couple's home.

The Crown alleges Milner drugged her husband by mixing Phenergan with his food and then may have suffocated him while he was sedated.

It says she was partly motivated by his $250,000 life insurance policy.

Milner's son, Gregory Kearns, 24, told the jury his mother asked if the drug Benzylpiperazine (BZP) could cause her husband to have a crash while driving his delivery truck.

Kearns, 24, did not think it would, but believed she was looking for a way to kill Nisbet.

He said he became aware of his stepfather's life insurance policy one or two years before his death.

"[It] was mentioned that if I was to get rid of Phil for my mother, I would get $20,000 from the . . . policy," Kearns said. "I just shrugged it off. I didn't take it seriously."

The conversations prompted him to warn Nisbet that his mother was trying to kill him, but Nisbet didn't take him seriously.

On the day Nisbet's body was found, Kearns said he went to his mother's home in Halswell.

"She [Milner] was crying, but I didn't think it was genuine."

Kasey Woodstock told the jury that Milner offered her and ex-partner Adam Kearns, Milner's son, a share of her husband's life insurance policy if they found a hitman to kill him.

She placed a $5000 bounty on his head and said "I want him gone", Woodstock told the jury. "We pretty much laughed it off."

Andrew Nisbet told the jury that when Milner initially phoned him about his brother's death she said he was found slumped over the wheel of his truck and he might have committed suicide.

A suicide note given to police by Milner after her husband's death said he had discovered his son Ben Porter was not his biological son.

Philip Nisbet's family had DNA testing done, which confirmed he was the father, Andrew Nisbet said.

It also emerged yesterday that members of Milner's family - including her parents - went to police nine days after Nisbet's death with concern she had killed him.

The trial continues.

The Press