NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Murder trial witness tells of smoke from burning car

Malcolm Webster
Image caption Malcolm Webster is on trial at the High Court in Glasgow

A man has told a murder trial he tried to check a burning car in which a nurse died in Aberdeenshire but was confronted by thick black smoke.

Malcolm Webster, 51, from Surrey, denies killing his wife Claire Morris in 1994 by drugging her, crashing their car and setting it alight.

Witness Roger Appleby told the High Court in Glasgow he tried to check the car which was off the road.

He said: "I opened up the passenger door. Smoke and flames came out."

Mr Webster, from Guildford, is accused of fraudulently obtaining more than £200,000 after cashing in insurance policies following the death of his first wife, Ms Morris, who was from Oldmeldrum.

He is further charged with deliberately crashing his car in Auckland in February 1999 in a bid to kill his second wife, Felicity Drumm, who was a passenger.

It is also alleged he intended to bigamously marry Simone Banarjee, from Oban, Argyll, to gain access to her estate.

It is claimed he told her he was terminally ill with leukaemia when he was actually in good health.

'Not moving'

Advocate depute Derek Ogg QC, prosecuting, asked Mr Appleby: "What sort of condition did the car appear to be in?"

He replied: "It was obviously alight it was full of dense black smoke."

Image caption Malcolm Webster denies murdering his first wife Claire Morris

Mr Ogg asked: "Did the man say anything to you, this is the man we know as Mr Webster?"

Mr Appleby replied: "He was just lying down not moving."

Mr Ogg said: "Did you hear screaming as you approached the car?"

He replied: "No."

Mr Appleby was then asked if he had had any difficulty opening the passenger door and said he had not.

Mr Ogg then said: "At any time did you hear the man shout for assistance or try to render assistance to anyone in the car?"

Mr Appleby again replied: "No."

The trial, which began on 1 February, continues on Monday.

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