Wales

Mavis Bran: Oil fell on chip shop owner 'like a waterfall'

Mavis Bran Image copyright Heno
Image caption Mavis Bran died six days after sustaining severe burns at the chip shop

A man accused of murdering his wife in their chip shop described how hot oil fell on her chest "like a waterfall" after she accidentally slipped.

Geoffrey Bran, 71, denies murdering his wife Mavis Bran, 69, in Hermon, Carmarthenshire, on 23 October 2018.

Mrs Bran died in Morriston Hospital six days after suffering burns.

Swansea Crown Court heard Mr Bran had told detectives he had not lost his temper following an argument about burnt fish.

He has claimed Mrs Bran sustained the burns in an accident.

"At the corner of my eye I could see the fat fryer moving as if it was in slow motion," he told the court.

"The front legs slipped off the table, instantly the legs fell off the edge and the weight of the oil tipped the whole thing forward, the whole two tubs came out in one whoosh.

"One of the legs got to the edge and the weight of the oil must have moved things fast and it was like a waterfall and it landed on her chest."

Image copyright Athena Pictures
Image caption The couple ran The Chipoteria in Carmarthenshire, one of a number of businesses they owned

Mr Bran said he moved his wife and sat her up to take off her oil soaked clothes after the accident.

"I didn't know if I was doing the right thing to be honest," he added.

"I just grabbed the bottom of her jumper and pulled it over her head."

He told her to run to their house and ask their lodger Gareth to call an ambulance.

The defendant said his wife had turned to drink that caused "paranoic" moments and she would "blame him for everything".

He said she consumed two and a half bottles of wine a day and was drinking from 09:30 on the morning of the accident.

Describing their relationship, he said: "There was a few arguments. Nothing serious."

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Geoffrey Bran denies murdering his wife

He described how the couple met in 1980 and married four years later.

Mr Bran told the jury Mavis was the "business brain" and he carried out renovations on a string of businesses they owned together including restaurants, pubs and cafes.

The court heard when paramedics arrived at Bryn Tawel, the family home, Mrs Bran had a blood alcohol reading of 108 mg/dl. The current drink drive limit in England and Wales is 80mg/dl.

When asked whether he threw oil over his wife at The Chipoteria in Hermon, Mr Bran told detectives: "I would not throw oil over anybody."

He was asked why he did not follow Mrs Bran back to their house after she was injured, and replied: "There was nothing I could do", adding he did not call for an ambulance because he believed their lodger was doing so.

Steven Jeffery, a consultant burns and plastic surgeon, agreed with the pathologist's report that Mrs Bran's eyes were closed when her face was burnt.

"The eyes were actually scrunched up," he said.

Splashed oil

Prof Jeffery was asked whether Mrs Bran's burns could have been sustained by her falling to the floor and pulling the fryer down over herself.

"This version of events is consistent with her injuries," he said.

He also agreed her injuries may have been caused by oil being thrown at her in an assault.

Prof Jeffrey said there were no cuts or bruises to suggest Mrs Bran had pulled the fryer on top of herself.

Christopher Clee QC, defending Mr Bran, said:  "If it's an act of throwing, he's more likely to have splashed himself with oil. There's no evidence of that?"

"No," Prof Jeffery replied.

He confirmed burns on Mr Bran's fingertips were consistent with his version of events.

Mr Bran denies murder and the case continues.

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