Milner brother's business went bust

16:00, Jan 24 2014

As convicted killer Helen Milner plotted her husband's murder, another member of her family was in strife.

Only days after Milner poisoned Philip Nisbet using the drug Phenergan, a Christchurch-based building company - Cramar Builders - run by her brother Craig and his wife, went bust owing nearly a $1 million.

Bad debts and the deteriorating health of the company's construction manager were blamed for the firm's collapse after it was placed into voluntary liquidation in May 2009.

Dozens of businesses lost thousands of dollars each and many struggled to recover from the financial hit.

Cramar Builders' sole director and shareholder was Marion Milner, who declared herself bankrupt after placing the company into liquidation.

However, unpaid creditors say her husband, Craig Milner, 55, was actually running the business. Records show he was declared bankrupt a decade earlier.


Cramar Builders went bust while it worked on a project in Hanmer. Craig Milner and his wife claimed they had not been paid by the developer, Murray Irvine.

Irvine told The Press Cramar Builders was fully paid for all the work it had done, but the company never completed the job it was contracted to do.

"[Craig Milner] ran out of money, he ran out of time and he was getting harder and harder to contact.

"He nearly bankrupted us as well. We got out by the skin of our teeth."

Creditors said the couple had been spending beyond their means - buying expensive vehicles and taking overseas trips to places like Hawaii - while their company battled financially.

A total of 36 unsecured creditors lost a combined $910,767 when Cramar Builders went bust.

Belfast Plumbing owner Murray French said he confronted Craig Milner when his company was not paid for plumbing and drainage work it had done on the development in Hanmer.

"That's where he promised everything was all right.

"We finished the job on his promise and then he went under."

French said his company had not seen any of the $82,000 it was owed by Cramar Builders, which put it under financial pressure.

"He [Craig Milner] blamed the developer and we took his word on that but it wasn't, it was him.

"I'd never ever trust him again. He shouldn't be in business."

J B Joinery shareholder and manager Stuart Cowan was among those who believed Craig Milner and his wife were living a lavish lifestyle while their business was struggling.

"He tended to live his life on everyone else's money," Cowan said.

"He just played the system. He did everything the system allows without doing anything illegal."

Neither Craig Milner or his wife could be reached for comment.

The couple sold their 5-hectare lifestyle block in Amberley and moved overseas after Cramar Builders went bust.

It is understood he now works as a supervisor for a large construction company on a remote island off the coast of Western Australia.

Helen Milner, 50, was found guilty last month of the murder and attempted murder of her husband.

Nisbet, 47, a truck driver, was found dead in bed at the couple's home in Checketts Ave, Halswell, on May 4, 2009.

The Crown said Milner likely mixed the drug Phenergan with her husband's dinner and then may have suffocated him.

She was motivated by his $250,000 life insurance policy.

Documents obtained by The Press show Craig Milner told police he no longer has anything to do with his sister.

She is scheduled to be sentenced at the High Court in Christchurch next month.

The Press