Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an NZME. News Service reporter based in Christchurch.

Poisoning trial: Milner's dark past revealed

First husband tells of lies and deception

The Crown said Helen Milner gave husband Phil Nisbet crushed Phenergan tablets. Photo / Martin Hunter
The Crown said Helen Milner gave husband Phil Nisbet crushed Phenergan tablets. Photo / Martin Hunter

Black Widow Helen Milner's first husband has broken his silence on their marriage - and revealed how her lies almost destroyed his relationship with their children.

Mark Kearns and his second wife, Dawn, said Milner was motivated by money and fuelled by lies.

Speaking at his Christchurch home last night, Mr Kearns described a manipulative woman who lied to get what she wanted.

"She got what she deserves," said Mr Kearns, after a jury found Milner guilty of murdering second husband Phil Nisbet in 2009.

The first marriage ended 20 years ago after seven years.

Dawn Kearns said her relationship with her husband was threatened by Milner's efforts to break them up.

"She tried all sorts of tactics too. Not trying to kill him, but she wanted to get rid of him, get him out of the house.

"It was money right through with her. It's always been money.

"Like the time she took her car to the (Waimakariri River), burnt it out and claimed insurance. She did that too - got full insurance on the car."

Mr Kearns said Milner lied in the Family Court to gain custody of their two sons, then told them he'd moved to Australia and didn't want anything to do with them,

"It was bullshit. I did my absolute best for the boys and had no show. It was not just the lies to me ...

"No matter what I spent with lawyers - 20-odd grand for a children's lawyer - she managed to put a stop to all that."

The truckie couldn't bring himself to attend her trial.

He followed it through the media and kept a watchful eye on the emotions of his sons, who gave evidence against their mother.

"I had a gut feeling all the way throughout that she was guilty," said Mr Kearns. "I said that to anyone that asked me - she's done it."

A container of the medication was shown in court.
A container of the medication was shown in court.

The Crown said Milner poisoned Mr Nisbet, then faked his death to look like suicide, motivated by a $250,000 life insurance payout.

Her murder conviction means she is ineligible for this payout, which was put on hold after insurer AXA was told of the homicide investigation into Mr Nisbet's death by his sister Lee-Ann Cartier.

"We are in the process of determining the legal recipients of the proceeds of the insurance policy," a spokeswoman for AMP, which merged with AXA in 2011, said yesterday.

Financial Services Council chief executive Peter Neilson said such cases were rare.

"If you purposely burn your own house down after taking out a fire insurance policy then you cannot be a beneficiary of your own actions regarding an insurance claim," he said.

But somebody else might be eligible for the money.

Milner was found guilty on one charge of murder and one charge of attempted murder, and not guilty on a second charge of attempted murder.

She will be sentenced in February.

Mr Kearns said he had worked hard to build good relationships with his sons Adam, now 22, and Greg, 24.

He hoped they could get on with their lives and make up for lost time.

"You've got to put it behind you and move on."

- NZ Herald

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