NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Murder accused's wife was 'well provided for'

Malcolm Webster
Image caption Malcolm Webster denies all the allegations made against him

The wife of a man accused of murder told a friend he had left her well provided for if he died, a court heard.

Malcolm Webster, 51, denies murdering his first wife Claire Morris, 32, in a car crash in 1994 to fraudulently obtain £200,000 in insurance policies.

Sandra Rodwell said Ms Morris told her that if something happened to Mr Webster, she would stand to gain, and vice versa.

Mr Webster also denies trying to kill his second wife in New Zealand in 1999.

Mrs Rodwell studied nursing at Aberdeen University at the same time as Claire Morris, whose degree was awarded posthumously.

She told the High Court in Glasgow: "She [Claire Morris] said Malcolm was being very generous.

"It was about life insurance, if something happened to Malcolm then she would stand to gain and vice versa.

"I think she felt he was generous. She tended to look at Malcolm being generous to her."

Image caption Mr Webster's wife Claire died in Aberdeenshire in 1994

Mrs Rodwell was asked by advocate depute Derek Ogg QC whether her friend had mentioned anything about wills.

She replied: "If anything happened to either of them the other would be the beneficiary or something to that effect."

Mr Webster, from Guildford in Surrey, denies murdering Ms Morris by drugging her with Temazepam, crashing his car on the Auchenhuive to Tarves Road in Aberdeenshire on 27 and 28 May 1994, and setting it on fire.

Mrs Rodwell said that in 1994 she lived near the couple and went to see Ms Morris on the morning of the crash.

She said: "She was fine, but anxious and was concerned about Malcolm. He was tired and was working hard."

Mrs Rodwell was asked if she would have taken the Auchenhuive to Tarves Road to go from the Websters' cottage and replied: "I wouldn't have gone that way. It's twisting and slow."

The court was told that after Ms Morris's funeral Mr Webster visited Mrs Rodwell and apart from a neck collar she said he seemed uninjured.

She said that Webster told her he had been blinded by a motorcyclist and went off the road.

Mrs Rodwell said: "He walked round the car to check if Claire was alright. I'm sure he said she acknowledged that she was okay.

"It wasn't a complete story. I was going to ask questions when he said he heard Claire screaming when he was away from the car and it was on fire and that shut me up."

Her husband John Rodwell, 56, also gave evidence.

Bigamous marriage

He was also asked if there was a more direct route to Aberdeen than the one taken by Mr Webster on the night of the fatal crash.

He replied: "Yes. There is a more direct and more open and safer road."

Mr Webster also denies deliberately crashing his car in Auckland, in February 1999, in a bid to kill his second wife, Felicity Drumm, who was a passenger.

He is also alleged to have formed a fraudulent scheme between 2004 and 2008 to enter into a bigamous marriage with Simone Banarjee to get access to her estate, which he denies.

The trial, before Lord Bannatyne, continues.

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