NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Police warned nurse about murder accused fiance

Simone Banarjee
Image caption Simone Banarjee said police warned her about Malcolm Webster

A nurse has told a murder trial that she was warned by police about the man she planned to marry.

Simone Banarjee, 41, told the High Court in Glasgow that two CID officers gave her a letter alerting her about her fiance Malcolm Webster's past.

The 51-year-old is accused of murdering his first wife in Aberdeenshire in 1994 and trying to kill his second wife in New Zealand in 1999.

Mr Webster, from Guildford in Surrey, denies the charges.

Ms Banarjee told the court that the two detectives arrived at the Lorn and Islands Hospital in Oban in January 2008, with the letter, which was signed by the assistant chief constable.

She was asked by prosecutor Derek Ogg: "Did it relate to matters in New Zealand and Scotland?" and she replied: "It did."

She said: "It all seemed so unbelievable."

Referring to the contents of the letter, Mr Ogg then said: "Did this seem to be the Malcolm Webster you knew?" and she said: "No."

Ms Banarjee said when she first met Mr Webster in 2005 he had told her that his first wife Claire Morris had died in a car crash and that he had not remarried.

The court was told that the letter given to Ms Banarjee by the CID officers revealed that Mr Webster had married another woman, Felicity Drumm, in New Zealand and had a son.

Ms Banarjee said that she was in shock but eventually confronted Mr Webster.

Image caption Malcolm Webster allegedly murdered his wife Claire Morris in 1994

She said: "Initially he asked who told me. I said the police.

"He went white and very, very quiet and at that point I wished I wasn't in the room."

Ms Banarjee, who had known Mr Webster for four years and had been in a relationship with him for two years, added: "I've never seen him like that before."

When asked by Mr Ogg: "How long was he like that?" she replied: "For five second maximum, then back to the Malcolm I knew."

Mr Ogg added: "That was a place you didn't want to be?" and she said: "No, I was terrified."

She was asked if Webster had said anything about the allegations and she replied: "He denied all the allegations it contained."

Earlier, in evidence, Ms Banarjee told the jury that Mr Webster had taken her to see his first wife Claire's grave and had also spoken about the car crash in which she died.

She said Mr Webster told her a motor cyclist came round a corner or the brow of a hill on the wrong side, he swerved off the road and the car caught fire.

Intensive care

Ms Banarjee added that Mr Webster said he could not get Claire out the car and he was trapped for a while and the soles of his feet were burned before he managed to crawl out.

She added: "I was told he was in intensive care for about a week after the accident."

Mr Ogg told her: "Mr Webster did not sustain any injury to his feet in the course of this crash, are you certain he said this?" She replied: "I'm 100% positive."

Ms Banarjee said that Mr Webster also told her that his first wife was screaming as the car burned.

She added: "He didn't like things on the television where there was screams and fires because it reminded him of the accident."

Earlier the witness had also said that Mr Webster had told her his first wife was pregnant when she died.

She also said that Mr Webster told her he was suffering from chronic lymphatic leukaemia.

'Almost incredible'

Ms Banarjee said: "I never met anyone who had been so unlucky in their life. To be bereaved and have a terminal illness."

Mr Ogg said: "It seems almost incredible." She replied: "Yes it does."

She said that Mr Webster told her he had to go to the Royal Marsden Hospital in London for chemotherapy, and shaved his hair and eyebrows off.

The court has heard Mr Webster, a qualified nurse, had not received treatment for cancer at the Royal Marsden Hospital, the Beatson Clinic or the Nuffield Health Glasgow Hospital.

In January 2008, after splitting with Mr Webster, Ms Banarjee instructed her lawyer to destroy her will.

Mr Webster is accused of drugging his first wife, putting her in a car, driving it off the road and setting fire to it.

He also stands accused of fraudulently obtaining more than £200,000 after cashing in a series of insurance policies following the death of his first wife, who was from Oldmeldrum.

He is further charged with deliberately crashing his car in Auckland in February 1999, in a bid to kill his second wife while she was a passenger.

Mr Webster did so as part of an attempt to fraudulently obtain hundreds of thousands of pounds in separate insurance payouts, it is alleged.

It is also alleged he intended to bigamously marry Ms Banarjee to gain access to her estate and told her he was terminally ill with leukaemia when he was actually in good health.

The trial, before Lord Bannatyne, continues. It is expected to last about four months.

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