Malcolm Webster (murderer)

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Malcolm Webster
Born Malcolm John Webster
(1959-04-18) 18 April 1959 (age 58)
England
Nationality British
Occupation Nurse
Criminal charge Murder, attempted murder
Criminal penalty Life imprisonment, minimum 30 years
Criminal status In prison
Conviction(s) Murder, attempted murder

Malcolm John Webster (born 18 April 1959) is an Englishman convicted of the murder of his first wife in Scotland in 1994 and the attempted murder of his second wife. Both cases involved staged car crashes and were carried out for the life insurance money. A police profiler labelled him a sociopath.[1]

Life[edit]

In childhood he was prone to pretending to faint, was largely isolated and his penchant for fires earned him the nickname of 'pyro'.[2] He left school at 15, with no qualifications.

He worked as a nurse, a bin man, a driver and an office clerk. In his teens he lied about having cancer.[3] His crimes were portrayed in the TV miniseries The Widower.

His father, Alexander (Sandy) Robertson Webster, had been the head of the Fraud Squad in the Metropolitan Police, holding the rank of Detective Chief Superintendent.

Suspicious deaths[edit]

When he was 30, Webster worked in Tawam children's hospital in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Within six months he was forced to resign, following an investigation into the deaths of three children under his care. All three children had been under six years old and died of cardiac failure (which is unusual for children that age). Due to Muslim culture's forbidding post-mortems, and favouring quick burials, there was insufficient evidence for a police investigation. His former co-worker and girlfriend, Beth Brown, has stated that Webster's supervisors had discovered that he had been injecting himself with insulin and formed the opinion that he had killed the children with insulin injections. It is reputed that his father (a senior police officer) used his influence to get his son out of the country.[4] Webster later denied the allegations.[5]

Relationships[edit]

Webster had been described as "thief, liar and philanderer".[6] He habitually pursued relationships with women (usually those with wealth) and relied on them to supplement his income (reportedly his favourite saying was "why work hard yourself when someone could be doing it for you?"[7]). He was involved with numerous women over a 30-year period, with the relationships often overlapping.

Claire Morris[edit]

Claire Morris married Malcolm Webster on 3 September 1993. During the course of their marriage he drugged her with Temazepam. In 1994 he deliberately crashed their car and then set it on fire. He claimed that he swerved to avoid a motorcyclist and informed a policeman that there was no one else in the car.[8][9] Upon her death he received a £200,000 life insurance payout. Webster spent a week in hospital after the crash. After extensive testing, the hospital were satisfied that he was uninjured (even his pulse and heart beat were normal). Webster, however, claimed he had been injured in the car and even wore a neck-brace at the funeral.[10] Webster's brother-in-law, Peter Morris, later recalled Claire's funeral: "I had a very firm grip of his hand. He was actually squeezing my hand. Most people had their heads down and I glanced at him and he was full of tears, as I was. And that convinced me up until three years ago that he had lost his wife in an accident...in reality I was holding the hand of her murderer." [11] A police officer later revealed that he investigated Claire's death in his spare time, as he had concerns: Claire had not been able to escape, the car had been travelling slowly and there was an absence of skid marks.[12] A fireman shared similar concerns: at the trial he said: "I still think why didn't the person who was there not pull the person out the vehicle?"[13] Former fire fighter Derek McDonald, had also suspected foul play. He informed the BBC: "We all thought it was a bit hooky, there was no sign of violence to the vehicle. For a car to be stopped or parked and burst into flames does not occur - not unless it's in the movies."[14]

Following Webster's conviction, Claire's family fought to have the inscription on her original headstone replaced with one that bore her maiden name and omitted any reference to her marriage (her original headstone stated "with loving thoughts of my dear wife"). Peter Morris, her brother, argued "Claire will not rest in peace until this lie is rectified". The Council originally informed her family that Webster owned the grave and consequently they would have to seek his permission to relinquish ownership. Her brother argued: "the grave and the gravestone would have been paid out of the insurance money, which he fraudulently obtained from murdering my sister, so to ask me, or any member of my family, to have to go to him, to seek permission to own this grave, I find absolutely incredible." [15] A spokesman for the Aberdeen Law Project, who represented Peter Morris stated: "There is a common misconception that Mr. Webster owns the grave. We would argue he does not own the grave; he holds a lair certificate to that grave, which is a contractual right" [16] Eventually the Council agreed to replace the headstone. An Aberdeenshire Council spokeswoman said: "The murder conviction against Malcolm Webster has rendered his contract with the Council, as relating to the lair at Tarves, void." Webster was also banned from being buried alongside her.[17]

Geraldine Oakley[edit]

Oakley worked at the same hospital as Webster where she was a computer manager. Their relationship started shortly after Claire died. Oakley became suspicious of Webster, as he kept asking her if a second autopsy was likely to be carried out on his first wife. Their sexual relationship remained a secret.[18] Webster also claimed to her that Claire was epileptic and on medication. Oakley testified that on two occasions she had gone to voice her suspicions to consultant pathologist James Grieve, but had always stopped at the last minute.[19]

Brenda Grant[edit]

In 1995, a year after his first wife died, Webster, while living in Saudi Arabia, struck up a friendship, via the phone, with Brenda Grant. Eventually they met up and started a relationship. Grant later revealed that Webster repeatedly offered her drugs which she refused, and she considers herself "lucky to be alive".[20] She has described Webster as a man who would "turn on the water works" to avoid certain conversations. In 2005, he contacted her "out of the blue" to arrange a trip to Paris, and informed her he had leukemia. She had no idea that her relationship overlapped with that of Simone Banerjee, and the two women are now friends. During their trip to Paris, he informed Banerjee that he was having treatment in London.[21]

Felicity Drumm[edit]

Webster married Felicity Drumm in New Zealand in 1997. He was accused of attempting to kill Drumm to fraudulently obtain £750,000 from insurance policies.[22] In 1999, Drumm survived a car crash, and it was discovered that she had been sedated. Webster failed to appear in court on various charges, and four warrants were issued for his arrest. A New Zealand police officer later confirmed: "He failed to appear at court and full warrants were issued. They are still alive. Two of them are for arson, the third is for selling, giving, supplying or administering a drug and the fourth is for disabling or stupefying his victim, his then wife. The arson charges relate to a fire at the home of his then wife's parents."[23] When Drumm confronted Webster about his plans to kill her, he informed her that she would "have died happy".[24]

During their marriage he attempted to burn her parents' house down, perhaps in order to persuade Drumm to buy life insurance.[25] He also claimed he had had a heart attack and cancer, and tried to murder her in a car crash. Drumm later described her husband as a psychopath.[26]

At the trial, Webster's estranged wife stated that on their honeymoon she had slept for 36 hours, after consuming a drink that her husband had given her, and on another occasion she had slept for 18 hours. She also experienced double vision, and a blood test showed abnormalities with her liver.[27]

Drumm was interviewed about her relationship with Webster in 2014.[28]

Christina Willis[edit]

Webster fled New Zealand in 2000, and in 2002 he began a relationship with Christina Willis. He habitually borrowed money from her, without reimbursing her, burnt a computer hard drive in her garden, and told her he had cancer.[29] He persuaded her to make a will in her name and give him power of attorney. There is no evidence he tried to kill her, but it is speculated that he ended their relationship because he had discovered that Simone Banarjee was independently wealthy.[30] When he ended their relationship he requested a loan and claimed he had leukemia.

Simone Banarjee[edit]

He had planned to bigamously marry Simone Banarjee, having told her he had terminal leukemia.[8] Banarjee subsequently changed her will, leaving her entire estate to Webster.[31] The police presented her with an Osman letter [32] that warned her about her fiance's past, in particular revealing that he had a wife and son.[33] She initially dismissed the letter as 'nonsense'. After his conviction she called for him to be placed in solitary confinement.[34] She later said "He is a very good actor and would give Colin Firth a run for his money. He was charming and that's what made him so plausible."[35]

She has conjectured that he intended to drown her, as she later discovered that "the foil on my life jacket had been punctured and I hadn't checked my life jacket since I sailed with him. Everybody else's lifejackets were fine. So I have pretty much no doubt that the boat was the way it was going to go."[36]

Other Relationships[edit]

Webster's other girlfriends include a 15-year-old who aborted his baby, a woman who later committed suicide, and a married woman (these women have declined to be identified).[37]

Arrest[edit]

In 2007 Simone Banarjee's house was searched by police after they received information that Webster had embezzled funds from an angling club. During the search, the police seized a stolen laptop and an unlicensed gun, which Webster claimed was an antique.[31] An investigation into Webster, called Operation Field, was launched in 2008.[38] The police subsequently announced they were re-examining Claire Morris' death.[39] At the same time the New Zealand police began re-examining the second crash.[23] He was consequently charged at the Aberdeen Sheriff in 2009 for the murder of Claire Morris, the attempted murder of Felicity Drumm, and attempting to bigamously marry Simone Banarjee to gain access to her estate. The investigation into Webster took five years and involved 1000 people being interviewed.[40]

Conviction[edit]

He was convicted at the High Court of Justiciary in Glasgow on 19 May 2011 after the longest ever criminal trial in Scotland with a single accused. He was found guilty by a jury of nine women and six men.[41][42] Some of the verdicts delivered by the jury were unanimous and some were by majority. Derek Ogg QC led the prosecution. Webster was sentenced to life imprisonment on 5 July 2011, with a minimum sentence of thirty years.[43] He was consequently removed from the nursing register.[44] He has reportedly told inmates that he expects to die in prison, and has been described by one inmate as being 'really boring'.[45] It was reported in 2011, that Webster had been attacked by another inmate with a metal pole.[46] Following further attacks, Webster reputedly refused to shower for months on end, and ultimately hired a convicted paedophile to protect him.[47]

Appeal[edit]

In December 2013, the appeal court quashed his convictions on the two minor charges of fire raising, but upheld the rest of his convictions.[48] Webster appealed again but dropped that appeal in March 2014.[49] On 9 September 2014, Webster asked the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission to review his conviction and sentence.[50] His request was granted, and this decision was criticized by Peter Morris, who said,

Why the hell are they wasting time on a review? Webster has been found guilty in a court, and then Scotland’s three most senior judges confirmed the verdict at the appeal stage. What is wrong with the Scottish criminal justice system? How many opportunities do they give someone to appeal?[51]

He has stated also that he wrote to Webster, asking him to elaborate on his alleged innocence, but Webster declined.[52] In February 2016, Webster's review was rejected. A spokesperson stated: "The commission's review has concluded and this case has not been referred to the High Court." [53]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lavery, Charles. The Black Widower: The life and crimes of a sociopathic killer. 1084. 
  2. ^ Lavery, Charles. The Black Widower: The life and crimes of a sociopathic killer. 109-113. 
  3. ^ "Murder accused told friend he was 'banned' from the funeral of the wife he killed" (Video). STV News. 9 February 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  4. ^ Lavery, Charles. The Black Widower: The life and crimes of a sociopathic killer. 176-193. 
  5. ^ "Wife killer Malcolm Webster denies 'experiments' on three children". The Scotsman. 2011-06-08. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  6. ^ "BBC News - Malcolm Webster trial: 'A thief and philanderer'". Bbc.com. 2011-05-17. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  7. ^ Lavery, Charles. The Black Widower: The life and crimes of a sociopathic killer. 2341. 
  8. ^ a b "Murder accused Webster 'did not say wife was in car'". bbc.co.uk. BBC News. 24 February 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  9. ^ "Drug traces 'found' in crash victim's body". bbc.co.uk. BBC News. 15 March 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  10. ^ Lavery, Charles. The Black Widower: The life and crimes of a sociopathic killer. 323-364. 
  11. ^ "Brother of wife murdered by 'monster' Malcolm Webster speaks out". Aberdeen & North News. 2011-05-19. Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  12. ^ "Malcolm Webster car crash made traffic officer 'uneasy'". bbc.co.uk. BBC News. 10 March 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  13. ^ "Fireman 'was suspicious of Malcolm Webster wife crash'". bbc.co.uk. BBC News. 9 March 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  14. ^ Banks, Ken (2011-05-19). "BBC News - Malcolm Webster case: A Hollywood-style script". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  15. ^ "Family of wife murdered by Malcolm Webster in agony over headstone". YouTube. 2011-06-02. Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  16. ^ Grave of Malcolm Webster's wife under spotlight in lair discussions, STV News, 2011-01-27, retrieved 2015-08-03 
  17. ^ "Malcolm Webster case: Convicted wife killer has burial bid rejected". bbc.co.uk. BBC News. 4 October 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  18. ^ "BBC News - Woman 'slept with Malcolm Webster on anniversary'". Bbc.com. 2011-03-17. Retrieved 2014-08-18. 
  19. ^ "Malcolm Webster's ex lover maintains she suspected he killed his first wife". Aberdeen & North News. 2011-03-21. Retrieved 2014-08-18. 
  20. ^ Dec 29, 2011 06:56 (2011-12-29). "I refused painkillers from Malcolm Webster - it could have saved my life, says ex Brenda Grant". Daily Record. Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  21. ^ "Malcolm Webster´s ex-lover says she's `lucky to be alive´". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  22. ^ "Malcolm Webster trial: 'Cheated wife of savings'". bbc.co.uk. BBC News. 30 March 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  23. ^ a b "Man hunted after wife's car crash". bbc.co.uk. BBC News. 30 March 2008. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  24. ^ "Malcolm Webster trial: Wife 'would have died happy'". bbc.co.uk. BBC News. 29 March 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  25. ^ "Malcolm Webster bought petrol can despite vowing never to carry fuel". YouTube. 2011-03-29. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  26. ^ "Malcolm Webster's wife Felicity Drumm says justice done". bbc.co.uk. BBC News. 29 May 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  27. ^ "Malcolm Webster case: Second wife 'slept for 36 hours'". bbc.co.uk. BBC News. 24 March 2011. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  28. ^ "Felicity Drumm - former wife of murderer Malcolm Webster". Radio New Zealand. 6 July 2014. 
  29. ^ "Husband accused of murdering wife borrowed money from another woman, court hears". Aberdeen & North News. 2011-02-04. Retrieved 2014-08-14. 
  30. ^ Lavery, Charles. The Black Widower: The life and crimes of a sociopathic killer. 1146-1159. 
  31. ^ a b "Malcolm Webster's ex-fiancee tells of chilling glimpse of killer's true nature". Daily Record (Scotland). Retrieved April 24, 2014. 
  32. ^ Oct 19, 2012 00:01 (2012-10-19). "Nine Scots every week warned they are murder targets". Daily Record. Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  33. ^ "Malcolm Webster guilty of wife murder". bbc.co.uk. BBC News. 19 May 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  34. ^ "Simone Banarjee on life after Malcolm Webster". bbc.co.uk. BBC News. 5 July 2011. Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
  35. ^ "Malcolm Webster's ex-fiancee tells of chilling glimpse of killer's true nature". Daily Record. 2011-05-21. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  36. ^ Lavery, Charles. The Black Widower. 1036. 
  37. ^ Lavery, Charles. The Black Widower: The life and crimes of a sociopathic killer. 3274. 
  38. ^ "Dr Harold Shipman report 'on Malcolm Webster computer'". bbc.co.uk. BBC News. 15 April 2011. Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
  39. ^ "Woman's crash death re-examined". bbc.co.uk. BBC News. 28 March 2008. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  40. ^ "Malcolm Webster case: On the trail of a killer fuelled by greed - National - NZ Herald News". Nzherald.co.nz. Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  41. ^ "Malcolm Webster guilty of wife murder". bbc.co.uk. BBC News. 19 May 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  42. ^ "Malcolm Webster guilty of killing first wife and attempted murder of his second". The Scotsman. Johnston Publishing Ltd. 19 May 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  43. ^ "HMA v MALCOLM JOHN WEBSTER". scotland-judiciary.org.uk. Judicial Office for Scotland. 5 July 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2004. 
  44. ^ "Killer Malcolm Webster struck from nursing register". bbc.co.uk. BBC News. 22 February 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  45. ^ Ferguson, John (2011-08-09). "Black widower Malcolm Webster tells fellow cons: I know I'll never leave prison". Daily Record. Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  46. ^ "Wife killer Webster in jail beating - National - NZ Herald News". Nzherald.co.nz. Retrieved 2014-08-18. 
  47. ^ David Taylor (12 August 2011). "Evil wife killer Malcolm Webster recruits pervert wrestler for prison protection". dailyrecord. 
  48. ^ "MALCOLM JOHN WEBSTER v HMA". scotland-judiciary.org.uk. Judicial Office for Scotland. 13 December 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2004. 
  49. ^ "Malcolm Webster case: Wife killer drops appeal against sentence". bbc.co.uk. BBC News. 14 March 2014. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  50. ^ Lucinda Cameron (9 September 2014). "Malcolm Webster seeks murder case review". 3 News. Retrieved 21 October 2015. 
  51. ^ Charlie Gall (5 November 2014). "Victim's family hit out as Black Widower Malcolm Webster successfully applies to have case reviewed". Daily Record. 
  52. ^ "Black Widower Malcolm Webster's latest freedom bid blasted by victim's brother". Daily Record. 8 September 2014. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  53. ^ "Killer Malcolm Webster fails to have case referred to the High Court". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-03-06.