Chip shop death: Geoffrey Bran cleared of murdering wife

Image source, Wales News Service
Image caption,
Geoffrey Bran left court with his daughter Rhiannon

A chip shop owner accused of killing his wife by throwing boiling oil over her has been cleared of her murder.

Geoffrey Bran, 71, who ran The Chipoteria in Hermon, Carmarthenshire, had told police his wife Mavis slipped and pulled a deep fat fryer over herself.

Mrs Bran, 69, died in hospital six days after receiving burns to 46% of her body on 23 October 2018.

He was cleared after five hours of jury deliberations at Swansea Crown Court.

Mrs Bran had told friends in the weeks before her death that she feared her husband would kill her, the jury had heard.

Media caption,
Geoffrey Bran's family ask to be left to 'grieve properly'

A statement read by Mr Bran's granddaughter outside court thanked people for their support, adding: "Family, friends, and our legal team who have shown great compassion, professionalism and positivity over this trying time.

"The loss of Mavis has left the family devastated and we ask that we are left now to get on with our lives and grieve properly without further intrusion."

Mrs Bran's family said: "We as a family would like to say a big thank you to everyone for all the support we have received after the loss of our beautiful, loving sister Mavis, who lost her life in such a tragic way doing the job she loved.

"She was the matriarch of the family and is missed every day.

"Now that the court case is over and we finally have closure, we can rebuild our lives as a family, remembering Mavis as the fun-loving person that she was."

Image source, Family photo
Image caption,
Mavis Bran died six days after hot oil went over her at her chip shop

The trial was told the couple, who had been married for more than 30 years, had a volatile relationship with arguments and swearing and it deteriorated over the last few months of Mrs Bran's life.

The prosecution argued Mr Bran had thrown the oil at his wife after an argument over some burnt fish, but he told the jury she accidentally pulled it over herself after she slipped and fell.

The week-long trial heard Mrs Bran was a heavy drinker and was over the legal drink-drive limit for alcohol on the day of the incident.

After Mrs Bran was injured, the court was told she went into their house, which is next to the chip shop cabin, but Mr Bran did not assist her or call an ambulance and continued to serve customers.

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

Mrs Bran called a friend, Caroline Morgan, telling her: "Geoff has thrown boiling oil over me, help me, help me, get here now. I am burnt to hell."

It was Mrs Morgan who called for an ambulance when she arrived 40 minutes later to find Mrs Bran "rocking back and forth like a little old lady".

Mr Bran said in evidence his wife had accidentally slipped and pulled a fat fryer over herself, saying: "One of the legs [of the fryer] got to the edge [of the table] and the weight of the oil must have moved things fast and it was like a waterfall and it landed on her chest."

Steven Jeffrey, a consultant burns and plastic surgeon, agreed her burns could have been sustained by her falling to the floor and pulling the fryer down over herself, saying: "This version of events is consistent with her injuries."

Image source, Wales News Service
Image caption,
Geoffrey Bran had been married to Mavis since 1984

Mrs Bran was taken to Morriston Hospital in Swansea after the accident where she had surgery to remove some of her burned skin.

She developed sepsis and hypothermia and died from multi-organ failure.

The couple met in 1980 and married in 1984. They did not have children together.

Mr Bran, who was initially arrested on suspicion of assault, had told police of his relationship with his wife: "It's a miracle we lasted that long. But we used to get on OK. We've had our ups and downs."