New South Wales woman Wendie-Sue Dent, who was accused of poisoning her partner with prescription medication in 2015, has been found guilty of murder by a South Australian Supreme Court jury.
Dent, 62, killed her partner David Lawrence by giving him a fatal dose of her own medication, including morphine, at his Adelaide home on his birthday weekend.
Prosecutors alleged Dent murdered Mr Lawrence to inherit his $300,000 estate.
The jury took six hours to reach its verdict.
In a statement, Mr Lawrence’s siblings — Phillip, Sue, Kym, Tracy and Rodney Lawrence — said they would not have been able to get through this “horrible episode” without support from close friends and family.
“Our past few years are something few families experience, our tight family connections have been so important, and we are so grateful for them,” they stated.
“We have all been struggling with the death of our very much-loved brother and friend.
The family thanked South Australian police, the coroner, prosecutors and the jury.
“Thank you so much to the members of the Supreme Court jury. They courageously continued to hear evidence in spite of the global pandemic,” the siblings said.
During the trial, Dent did not give evidence in her own defence, but relied on the statement of a good friend, retired South Australian nurse Sharon Campanella.
Ms Campanella, 64, stated that she and her husband Joseph became good friends with Ms Dent and Mr Lawrence after selling the couple a motorhome.
“From the moment they arrived on my front door, I formed the impression they were a couple very much in love and very much committed to each other,” she wrote in her statement.
“David thought the sun shined out of Wendy. He was besotted with her. She also adored him and they were an affectionate couple.”
But prosecutor Emily Telfer told the jury that Dent murdered her partner by “poisoning him with a cocktail of dangerous medication” which she possessed because it was prescribed to her for an ongoing pain condition.
The court heard the medication included a strong opioid, Valium and morphine.
The jury heard that 122 Tramadol 200mg tablets, 364 Valium 5mg tablets and 199 Nitrazepam 5mg tablets belonging to Dent were unaccounted for when police searched the Morphett Vale home.
“The prosecution say that this was no accidental overdose, this was no suicide, this was a deliberate killing by the accused of David Lawrence because she stood to gain financially from his death,” Ms Telfer said.
Ms Telfer told the jury police found a glass of orange liquid next to Mr Lawrence’s bed and analysis of that liquid found traces of medication that had been prescribed to 61-year-old Ms Dent.
Jury played Dent’s record of interview with police
“In your mind, how do you think David died?” police asked Dent in her record of interview with police, which was played to the jury during the trial.
Dent replied, “I don’t know”.
Through tears, she told the officers that she went into the bedroom after she could smell something bad.
“When I turned the light on, I couldn’t believe what I saw. He was leaning against the post of the bed,” she said.
In the video, police informed Ms Dent that a pathologist report stated her partner died from a “lethal amount” of prescription medication including morphine and Tramadol.
Dent replied: “Oh rubbish. How did he get that?”
“That’s why we’re here,” the officer replied.
“I don’t know what happened here, but I didn’t give him any tablets. No way would I give him morphine.”