Webster car-crash wife rebuilds her life

By Patrick Gower

The New Zealand wife Malcolm John Webster allegedly drugged and tried to kill in a car crash on the North Shore has rebuilt her life and lives happily in Auckland.

Felicity Drumm, a nurse, survived the 1999 crash and was subsequently found to have a sedative in her system.

Webster fled before he was charged and Scottish police now suspect he killed his first wife, Claire, using the same method in 1994.

Ms Drumm's sister Jane - executive director of the Preventing Violence in the Home agency - declined to comment last night.

The Weekend Herald has learned one of the New Zealand charges Webster is wanted for is attempted arson of the "dream home" he and Ms Drumm tried to buy as newlyweds in 1999.

The real estate agent who dealt with the heritage villa in Bayswater said Webster, who is British, "was just the most plausible bloke".

The agent, who did not want to be named, said the couple had just moved to New Zealand after meeting in Dubai.

The six-bedroom home on Bayswater Pt was a short distance from the home of Ms Drumm's parents.

The agent said they paid a deposit of $60,000 using money Ms Drumm had from selling another house.

The agent remembered Ms Drumm as "just thrilled to be married and probably loving him to bits" and her parents as equally "thrilled their daughter had a lovely new husband".

Webster was to bring the rest of the money over from Britain "but it never came" before the settlement date.

The vendor, who also didn't want to be named, said Webster initially used the injuries Ms Drumm received when they crashed into a pole near Takapuna as an "excuse", saying it happened as "he was on the way to the solicitor to sign transfer papers".

The home was vacant at the time and, when the vendor checked it, he found newspaper had been stuffed through the Victorian letterbox in the front door and set alight. The fire had blown itself out and there was only minor damage.

The deposit was forfeited and the house sold to another couple, who still live there with their young family.

After Webster fled, the agent recalled the Drumm family trying to get in touch with Webster's parents in Britain "who just did not want to know about him". His father, now dead, was a senior police officer.

Charges were laid but Webster never appeared and a warrant remains out for his arrest.

Court documents show the alleged arson of the Bayswater home took place in January 1999.

Webster is also charged with setting fire to the home of Ms Drumm's parents two weeks later.

A charge of "stupefying" Ms Drumm ranges from April 26, 1997 - reportedly their wedding day - through to February 1999.

The fourth charge he faces relates to giving Ms Drumm the class-C drug clonazepam - a sedative used to treat epilepsy - the same month.

Webster's first wife, Claire, also a nurse, was killed in 1994 when their car, which he was driving, hit a tree and he crawled from the wreckage before it burst into flames.

It was initially believed to be an accident. But last week it was revealed that Scottish police were treating it as a homicide after learning of the NZ charges. Forensic tests reportedly found that she was drugged.

Webster, also a nurse, has been living in Britain and working in the health system there since fleeing NZ.

In an interview this week, he denied all the allegations, saying: "I categorically refute the so-called allegations about Felicity."

- NZ Herald

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