20 May 2011

Officer says Webster would have killed again

10:09 pm on 20 May 2011

A New Zealand police officer who pushed to have British wife-killer Malcolm Webster convicted is relieved the verdict has finally come through.

Glenn Gray, now a detective on Auckland's North Shore, headed the case in New Zealand and says Webster would have killed again if he had not been caught. "That's his life, that's his pattern."

A jury in Scotland on Wednesday found Webster, 52, guilty of murdering his first wife and attempting to murder his second wife from New Zealand to get their life insurance payouts.

The four-month trial in Glasgow was Scotland's longest-running homicide trial to date. Webster will be sentenced on 5 July.

Webster's first wife, Claire Morris, died in what seemed to be a fiery car crash in Scotland in 1994.

Five years later in Auckland, Felicity Drumm narrowly escaped death in similar circumstances several times and discovered that Webster had cheated her of her life savings.

Detective Gray told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme on Friday he was pretty sure Webster would be convicted, as the amount of evidence was overwhelming against him, but is relieved nonetheless.

Mr Gray says on one occasion, Webster was interrupted getting petrol cans out of the back of his car by an officer who spotted it on the side of the road while Ms Drumm was inside.

On another occasion, he says Ms Drumm was in the vehicle unconscious and was woken by her father calling her cellphone.

"I think if she hadn't woken up to the cellphone at that time, her life was in jeopardy anyway."

Mr Gray says Webster was manipulative and his entire life with Ms Drumm was an elaborate lie, but he seemed completely normal when police interviewed him.

The woman's sister, Jane Drumm, says the case was re-investigated after she mentioned it to a police superintendent she was staying with on a trip to the United Kingdom.

Jane Drumm says the more police looked into the case, the more leads they found. Ten officers had been working fulltime on the case for the past year.

She says the family had given up hope that the case would be solved, but it is comforting to know Webster cannot hurt any more women.

Traces of drugs found

The fatal crash in 1994 was originally treated as a tragic accident as Webster claimed he had swerved to avoid a motorcyclist.

However, the BBC reports the crash was later reinvestigated after concerns were raised in the wake of a second crash in New Zealand.

It reports that new tests showed Claire Morris had traces of drugs in her system.

His second wife, Felicity Drumm, also suspected that Webster had later been spiking her food.

Bigamy charge

Webster was also found guilty of intending to bigamously marry Simone Banarjee, from Oban, to gain access to her estate.

He pretended to have leukaemia and shaved his head and eyebrows.

Ms Banarjee was warned about Webster's past as police closed in on him.