Jury to continue overnight in Helen Milner trial

High Court-panoply1The jury will continue its deliberations on Thursday morning in the trial of Helen Elizabeth Milner, accused of murdering her husband.

It began to consider its three verdicts at 11.05am on the 13th day of the trial in the High Court at Christchurch, but had not reached a verdict by 5pm.

The summing up by Justice David Gendall began at 9.40am at the end of a trial where Milner was said to be either a financially motivated killer or a victim of character assassination.

In the High Court at Christchurch, Milner denies two charges of attempting to murder her husband Philip James Nisbet, 47, in April 2009, and murdering him the following month.

The trial heard two weeks of Crown evidence, and defence evidence on Monday. Closing addresses by both sides were put to the jury on Tuesday.

The Crown alleged that she poisoned her husband with the anti-allergy and sedative drug Phenergan and then smothered him as he lay sedated in bed. It claims she then tried to make the death seem a suicide.

Crown prosecutor Brent Stanaway yesterday described some of the suicide notes claimed to have been written by Mr Nisbet as a Mills and Boon style concoction by Milner. He said she had committed the murder to collect her husband’s $250,000 life insurance policy.

Defence counsel Rupert Glover said it would be “hugely dangerous to convict this woman on such an orchestrated body of tendentious evidence”. He said some of the most important aspects of the evidence had been given by Milner’s son and his partner – “witnesses so devoured by malice and venom that they didn’t even take the trouble to make their lies consistent”.

Justice Gendall said the Crown said that it had a strong circumstantial case against Milner, while the defence said it was impossible to be sure that the charges were proved beyond reasonable doubt when they were assessed in a detached way.

He finished his summing up at 11.05am and the jury then retired to consider its three verdicts.

Jury members returned to their homes overnight and will go back into the jury room from 9.30am on Thursday to continue their deliberations.

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