Wife Killer Malcolm Webster
How a chance meeting led to
SUNDAY NIGHT TV COMMENTS PREAMBLE ON THE CASE BELOW
At least the next investigation about UK killer Malcolm Webster is covered by Ross Coulthart. I realise the making of any current affairs show is its ability to break news but I’m tiring a bit of killers, kidnappers, missing persons and voices from behind bars at 6:30 on a Sunday. Sure they have their place, but I’m in a much lighter mood at that hour….
A Sunday Night worldwide investigation into the life, and loves, of convicted wife killer Malcolm Webster. A cunning and charismatic serial psychopath, whose father was a senior Scotland Yard police officer, Webster had an insatiable appetite for money and possessions. He would seduce, date, marry and insure his lovers…. before carefully plotting to kill them. Reporter Ross Coulthart follows the trail of Webster, who has just been convicted of murdering his Australian wife Claire, attempting to murder his second wife, as well as planning the death of his new fiancé. A trained nurse, Webster spent three periods living in Australia, and the hunt is on to find his victims here.
May 20 2011 By Charlie Gall
AN incredible chance meeting re-ignited the inquiry into Malcolm Webster and finally brought the killer to justice.
Jane Drumm – sister of Webster’s second wife Felicity – shared her concerns about him during a social chat with a police officer.
She told him she feared Webster had tried to kill her sister – and had successfully murdered his first wife in Scotland.
Jane, right, was director of a domestic violence prevention organisation in New Zealand and was in the UK on a fact-finding mission in June 2006.
There, she discussed Webster with an English police officer.
Detective Chief Inspector Phil Chapman, who led the new investigation in Grampian, said: “The cop was a senior officer with a north of England force.
“In a private conversation she raised her concerns with this officer, who clearly felt there was a need to pass that information us. We went and interviewed Jane before she went back to New Zealand.
“Jane was aware that Malcolm was in the UK. She didn’t demand an investigation. She just spoke about her concerns.
“She just related exactly the circumstances of the two separate incidents and said, in essence, her family were concerned Malcolm had murdered his first wife and attempted to murder Felicity.
“Anybody who listened couldn’t help but be moved by the striking similarity between the two events. It was like lightning striking twice. It certainly raised enough of a degree of suspicion in us.”
The crash which killed Webster’s first wife Claire was recorded as a death by dangerous driving because the motorcyclist Webster claimed he’d swerved to avoid was never traced.
DCI Chapman said: “For us to go back and review that, we had to come up with fresh evidence and fresh information which would allow us to go to the fiscal service.
“As the senior investigating officer I had to establish whether a crime had been committed.”
DCI Chapman’s team of 25 detectives went back and looked at the original crash “afresh” to satisfy themselves there was sufficient evidence to reopen the case.
He said: “In essence it was an open crime file. There were witnesses but never to the aspect of there having been a bike.
“Post-incident there were plenty of witnesses, pre-incident there were no witnesses. That crime, as many crimes do, remained undetected.”
The DCI travelled to New Zealand with four of his team to interview Felicity Drumm, right, and speak to detectives there.
Now they had an actual witness who was claiming Webster had tried to kill her.
DCI Chapman said: “We looked specifically at the toxicology, given the evidence from New Zealand with regards to the drugging of Felicity.”
A postmortem had been carried out on Claire Webster’s body after the crash and her liver was tested for alcohol – but not drugs.
Now, 13 years on, a slide held in a lab containing a sliver of Claire’s liver was about to give detectives the major breakthrough they desperately sought.
DCI Chapman said: “Because it was a section one road traffic accident they had kept this tissue sample.
“That’s retained as a matter of record from the autopsy involving any fatal accident or sudden death reported to the fiscal.
“We had to work up the experimental process with the toxicologists around the examination of Claire’s liver tissue.”
The ground-breaking tests were led by Dr Duncan Stephen, a toxicology expert based at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
DCI Chapman said: “There had never been a requirement to do that before – to analyse a historical piece of tissue to find if drugs are in it 13 years after the event.
“We were breaking new ground.”
The piece of tissue had been set in wax to preserve it. The experts had to dissolve the wax to analyse it and there was a risk that any material within it could be washed away.
It took some time to come up with a process that worked.
DCI Chapman said: “They came back and told us they had found trace evidence of benzodiazepam with the 92.4 per cent probability that it was temazepam.”
The presence of temazepam in Claire’s liver was reported back to the Crown Office, who gave the go-ahead for a review of the whole circumstances of her death.
DCI Chapman said: “The two incidents in isolation are pretty remarkable incidents but taken together, the similarities are striking.
“He married both women under the auspices of using them as a vehicle to obtain finance and wealth.
“That’s not rational behaviour. It shows his contempt for human life, and particularly the fact the people involved were his wife and his second wife – the second being the mother of his child.
“Indeed, he was drugging Felicity while she was actually pregnant.”
As the police closed in on Webster, more than 1000 witness statements were taken as the investigation stretched from Scotland to New Zealand, America, Sierra Leone, Australia and France.
DCI Chapman said: “Three quarters of the inquiries were outwith the Grampian area.
“It was reasonable to suggest that he’d murdered Claire – now we needed to establish a connection with New Zealand. We had the added element of Webster becoming aware due to press coverage that this was happening.”
But Grampian Police were not yet ready to arrest him.
They knew exactly where he was. Despite still being married to Felicity, he had become engaged to Simone Banerjee, 41, a health service worker in Oban.
When police warned her about Webster, she called off the engagement and he returned to the London area – and the investigation continued.
DCI Chapman said: “We knew that with Felicity there were insurance policies and financial motive. But only in Claire’s case did Malcolm receive any money. It was a very challenging thing to do.”
Some 80 search warrants were executed across financial institutions throughout the UK to find application forms for insurance policies and termination documents.
Pay slips as well as bank and credit card statements were sourced.
And they found Claire had signed a last will and testament bequeathing her entire estate to Webster in the event of her death.
DCI Chapman said: “Ultimately, the picture we developed was that Webster had a motive and his motive was his insatiable appetite for money and wealth.
“His means of obtaining wealth was through insurance policies which were guaranteed to pay out in the event of the death of someone he had placed an insurance policy for – and allegedly loved.
“That was the most callous part of it. From Claire’s family’s view, she was madly in love with this guy. Felicity felt the same way.”
Within the year, detectives believed they had a compelling case against Webster.
But DCI Chapman added: “We had to look at what else he had done – could there be other victims?
“We had, on a week to week basis, detectives going all over the UK looking at his friends, his family, his associates, his work colleagues, his bank and insurance details.
“We had been liaising with the New Zealand police right from the start and they were first class.
“They showed us all their files but we had to go through the case from a Scottish perspective to make sure the evidence would stand scrutiny under Scots law.
“Ultimately when all the reports and evidence we needed were available to go and arrest him, we did.”
WEBSTER’S OTHER WOMEN
He murdered one wife, tried to kill another and conned a third lover, but Webster had an eye for ladies
Webster spent a week in Paris with Brenda, from Missouri, US, just weeks after he moved in with Simone Banerjee.
He told the divorced mum-of-three, who once worked with him at a US healthcare firm, he was divorced. She insisted the trip was strictly platonic.
Webster took secret lover Caroline McIntosh for a trip on his yacht just months after he killed his wife.
Caroline, 45, met Webster in August 1994 at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary where they both worked. The couple stayed at a hotel in Inverness.
Former colleague Geraldine Oakley, 50, told the jury she slept with the killer on his first wedding anniversary.
She said Webster called her that night and told her he did not want to be alone. She first met the killer in 1993 when she was a computer manager at Grampian NHS and he was a nurse.
Webster took nurse Catherine Brown to visit his first wife’s grave after they spent the weekend in a hotel together.
The killer met the theatre nurse in June 2005 when she started her job at Lorn & Islands hospital. He lied to her that he had leukaemia.
The physiotherapist, 50, revealed Webster was nicknamed Dr Death as he was studying for a degree in euthanasia.
They met in Glasgow in 2004 but did not begin a relationship until late 2007.
Police finally warned her about his past.
She fell in love with Webster after they met at Lorn & Islands hospital in Oban in 2002.
The 61-year-old was duped by Webster into believing he had leukaemia for more than two years. He shaved off his hair and eyebrows and pretended to have chemotherapy. He dumped her in 2005.
Sourced from Scottish news by Henry Sapiecha