NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Malcolm Webster 'did not try to save wife' from car

Malcolm Webster and Claire Morris
Image caption Malcolm Webster is charged with murdering his wife Claire Morris

A man accused of murdering his first wife in a crash to get insurance money did not ask police to rescue her from the burning car, a court has heard.

Malcolm Webster, 51, of Surrey, denies killing Claire Morris in 1994 by drugging her, crashing their car in Aberdeenshire and setting it alight.

He also denies attempting to murder his second wife in New Zealand in 1999.

Insp Ian Murray told the High Court in Glasgow that Mr Webster had not called out to officers to save his wife.

Mr Webster, from Guildford, stands accused of fraudulently obtaining more than £200,000 after cashing in insurance policies following the death of his first wife Ms Morris, 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, Felicity Drumm, who was a passenger.

It is also alleged he intended to bigamously marry Simone Banarjee, from Oban, Argyll, to gain access to her estate.

It is claimed he told her he was terminally ill with leukaemia when he was actually in good health.

Insp Ian Murray said the car was "completely ablaze" when he arrived at the scene on an unclassified road near Oldmeldrum.

'Call out'

Advocate depute Derek Ogg QC, prosecuting, asked: "In all the time you were at the scene did you hear him shout or cry or call out to rescue someone from the vehicle?"

He replied: "No".

Image caption Malcolm Webster denies all the allegations made against him

Mr Ogg asked: "In all the time you were at the scene did you see Malcolm Webster make a move towards the vehicle?"

He again replied: "No".

Insp Murray said there were no signs of movement from the burning car.

He said there were no difficulties or obstacles that prevented him taking her from the wreckage.

Under cross-examination by defence counsel Edgar Prais QC, Insp Murray said that when he arrived Mr Webster was on the ground.

'Distressing' images

Witness Elizabeth Smith, 53, a passer-by, wept as she told of the moment she saw the car burst into flames, after stopping at the scene.

She said: "It was horrific, when I saw the jeep in flames and the woman lying in the seat."

The jury was shown images of her badly charred body.

Mr Ogg warned the jurors that the pictures were "distressing".

The trial judge, Lord Bannatyne, explained that it was necessary to look at the pictures, which were not shown to the public gallery.

The jury visited the scene on Tuesday, and saw a replica car positioned off the road.

Insp Murray also said the road where the crash took place was not the obvious route for the journey being taken.

The trial, which began on 1 February, continues.

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