A British man accused of attempting to murder his New Zealand wife has admitted he treated her shoddily and cheated her out of her life savings, the High Court at Glasgow has heard.

Malcolm Webster, 51, denies drugging his now-estranged wife, Felicity Drumm, and staging a car crash in New Zealand in 1999 in a bid to kill her. He also denies murdering his first wife in Aberdeenshire in 1994 by burning her to death in a crashed car.

His QC, Edgar Prais, told the court yesterday Webster had lied, and repeatedly cheated and robbed Ms Drumm - but did not try to kill her, the Glasgow Herald reported.

During his cross-examination of Ms Drumm, Mr Prais said: "My instructions from Malcolm are that it is accepted he lied to you, repeatedly cheated you and robbed you blind, do you understand?"

She replied: "Yes."

Mr Prais added: "The shoddy, shameful, disgraceful way he treated you, the callous way in what he did with your money. You were bulldozed into putting him on to your account and within a short period he had robbed you blind."

She replied: "That's correct."

The QC said: "There is going to be no dispute about the shoddy, disgraceful, monstrous way Malcolm handled your life savings."

Mr Prais then told Ms Drumm: "As for the incident on the motorway, he wants to make his position clear. It was not his intention to cause any injury."

The "motorway incident" was a crash near Auckland, where Webster then tried to keep Ms Drumm in the car while he opened the boot. A container of petrol and paper were later found there.

Mr Prais said Webster was not responsible for fires at a cottage in Aberdeenshire or at the Auckland home of Ms Drumm's parents.

He also told her Webster "accepts no responsibility for the episodes you had".

Earlier, Ms Drumm told jurors she suffered "episodes" when staggering about after eating food or drink her husband gave her.

She said the first happened on the second day of their honeymoon and she slept for 36 hours.

During the second episode - at her home in Russell - she slept for 17 to 18 hours.

Mr Prais said: "I suggest to you on this occasion it was just a good night's sleep." She replied: "I don't agree with you."

The trial continues.

- NZPA