Chip shop death: Mavis Bran 'had a black eye in the weeks before'

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

A chip shop owner who died after being severely burnt by oil from a deep fat fryer was seen with a black eye in the weeks before her death, Swansea Crown Court has heard.

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

It is alleged he threw hot oil in The Chipoteria in Hermon, Carmarthenshire.

Mrs Bran died in Swansea's Morriston Hospital, six days after suffering burns at the chip shop.

Friend Cerys Davies said she had seen Mrs Bran cry, and she had said her husband was "nasty" to her.

Ms Davies told the court that when she asked Mrs Bran about her eye she told her she had "walked into something".

Image source, Wales News Service
Image caption,
Geoffrey Bran denies murdering his wife

Jurors heard that in the weeks before her death, Mrs Bran featured in an S4C programme about the chip shop but then decided to stop filming.

"I said [to Mrs Bran] 'why would you cancel doing the free advert for the telly' and she said 'Geoff isn't willing for me to do it'," Ms Davies said.

She told the court Mrs Bran had confided in her about a previous relationship that was violent, and said it was happening again with Mr Bran.

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

"Her and Geoff had had a barney," she said.

"She said Geoff had been very nasty to her since Wednesday."

Ms Davies said her friend had her head in her hands and told her: "Cerys, I am frightened. I think he is going to kill me."

Medical evidence

Pathologist Deryk James told the court he did not think it possible oil had been "tipped" over Mrs Bran's head.

He agreed with the conclusion she had died from complications of burns.

He said: "The front [of her body] has borne the greatest exposure of oil. This is not compatible with oil being tipped over her head.

"We have some areas of burn consistent with splashes, on the legs, and we have no real examples of hot fluid runs."

He said the palms and the back of her hands were burn-free, which indicated she had not gripped something very hot like a hot oil fryer.

The court had previously heard that Mr Bran had said his wife had pulled the deep fat fryer over herself.

Friends' concerns

Another friend, Caroline Morgan, told the court on Tuesday Mrs Bran called her on the day of the incident "screaming down the phone begging for help and crying".

She said when she arrived 40 minutes later no-one had called the emergency services and Mrs Bran was "rocking back and forth like a little old lady".

A customer who became friends with Mrs Bran told the court the chip shop owner had told him that her relationship with the defendant had changed since they had retired.

"She told me that Geoff was sometimes horrible to her and she said it with such expression," said Johnny Pattison, a contractor who had been working on a building project in the village.

"She said she was frightened and that gave me cause for concern, and there were two or three occasions where she was crying while she was telling me.

"She was frightened of his anger and she was worried he was developing some sort of psychological problems."

The trial continues.

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