Wife-killer launches appeal

By Paul Harper

Malcom Webster was found guilty of murdering Briton Claire Morris in a staged car crash in 1994, and attempting to murder his second wife, Aucklander Felicity Drumm in New Zealand in 1999. Photo / supplied
Malcom Webster was found guilty of murdering Briton Claire Morris in a staged car crash in 1994, and attempting to murder his second wife, Aucklander Felicity Drumm in New Zealand in 1999. Photo / supplied

A man who murdered his first wife and attempted to kill his New Zealand second wife, has launched an appeal against his conviction.

Malcolm Webster, 53, of Surrey, was jailed in July last year for at least 30 years for the murder of Claire Morris and attempted murder of New Zealander Felicity Drumm.

However his lawyer is claiming evidence from a surprise witness caused a miscarriage of justice, The Scotsman reports.

The witness, Iain Hardie, came forward after seeing television coverage of the trial. He told the court he had seen Webster in a field where Ms Morris had died in a staged car crash.

Defence QC, Gary Allan, has appealed to the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh that the evidence should not have been allowed by the judge, as photographs of Webster had been shown extensively in the media during the trial, and Mr Hardie had seen them before identifying him, The Scotsman reported.

Webster was convicted of killing his first wife in 1994, by drugging her, staging a car crash and setting the vehicle alight. He then claimed more than NZ$400,000 from her life insurance policy.

He was also convicted of attempting to kill his second wife in Auckland, in a similar fashion to Ms Morris. However Ms Drumm, who was pregnant at the time, survived the accident. She was insured for more than $1.5 million.

Webster was caught in Scotland when he attempted to enter into a bigamous marriage with Simone Banarjee, 42, who he persuaded to make a will leaving everything to him.

At the beginning of the two-day appeal hearing, Mr Allan said there were several grounds for appeal, the Scotsman reported.

He argued the Crown failed to provide sufficient to exclude accident as the cause of the car fire, and claimed the trial judge misdirected the jury on the question of corroboration.

"It is said a miscarriage of justice has occurred ... I will be inviting the court ... to quash the conviction," he said.

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