6 Jul 2011

Wife killer jailed for 30 years

2:44 pm on 6 July 2011

A man who murdered his first wife in Scotland and tried to kill his second in New Zealand will spend at least 30 years in prison.

Malcom Webster, 52, was sentenced in Scotland on Tuesday after being found guilty of drugging Claire Morris and killing her in a staged car crash in Aberdeenshire in 1994.

Five years later, he attempted to kill New Zealander Felicity Drumm in a similar crash in Auckland.

At the High Court in Edinburgh, Judge Lord Bannatyne said Webster - who must serve 30 years before he can apply for parole - had committed ''cold-blooded, brutal and callous'' crimes for financial gain.

Ms Morris' family said Webster was a monster.

The BBC reports that in the 1994 crash Webster said he had swerved to avoid a motorcyclist. However, it was later reinvestigated after concerns were raised in the wake of the Auckland crash.

New tests showed Ms Morris had traces of drugs in her system.

Ms Drumm, who also suspected that Webster had also been spiking her food and setting fire to their homes, alerted the authorities in New Zealand after surviving the car crash in which Webster was driving.

Webster was found guilty after Scotland's longest-lasting single accused criminal trial, which began on 1 February at the High Court in Glasgow.

The jury, of nine women and six men, took less than four hours to find Webster guilty of all charges which also included intending to bigamously marry Simone Banarjee from Oban in Argyll to gain access to her estate.

Webster pretended to have leukaemia, and during the deception shaved his head and eyebrows.

Webster would have killed again - police

A New Zealand police officer believes Webster would have killed again if he had not been caught.

Detective Glenn Gray, who led an investigation into the crash involving Ms Drumm, says the sentence is just.

Mr Gray says 30 years is a good, solid sentence and hopefully Webster will no longer be a risk to anyone when he is in his 80s.

He says Webster deceived people with his personality and was not concerned by police attention.