Alleged killer Wendie-Sue Dent will face a second Supreme Court trial over allegations she poisoned her partner with prescription medication in 2015 after South Australia’s Court of Criminal Appeal quashed her murder conviction.

Key points:

  • Wendie-Sue Dent was found guilty in 2020 of murdering her partner by poisoning him with prescription medication
  • That finding was quashed by the criminal appeal court, which said jurors were not directed about Ms Dent’s “lies” correctly
  • The three judges have ordered a retrial in the Supreme Court

The 62-year-old New South Wales woman was found guilty by a jury last year after a seven-week trial and was sentenced to life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 25 years for the murder of David Lawrence at his Morphett Vale home.

She was accused of poisoning Mr Lawrence with a lethal dose of prescription medication, including morphine.

The Court of Criminal Appeal today overturned the verdict, finding Justice Tim Stanley — who presided over the trial — did not adequately direct jurors about the “lies” that Ms Dent told after her partner’s death.

Despite allowing the appeal, Justice Trish Kelly — who led the panel of three appeal judges — stated in her reasons that “this was a very strong prosecution case”.

She added that Ms Dent was “the only person during the relevant period who had access to the deceased and that she was the only person who had a motive to kill him”.

“Therefore, in all of the circumstances, it was open to the jury to conclude that Ms Dent had administered the drugs with the necessary intent of killing the deceased.”

David Lawrence died in 2015.(Supplied: SA Police)

During the appeal hearing, Marie Shaw QC, for Ms Dent, said prosecutors relied on “15 items” of circumstantial evidence during the trial.

She said one of those items of circumstantial evidence was a “dossier of lies” that were part of Dent’s personal history.

The appeal court found the jurors may have “considered all of the lies collectively” to determine her consciousness of guilt.

“The complexity and interaction of the various categories of lies, which were relied on for different reasons, required clear and careful directions tailored to each particular category,” the Court of Criminal Appeal found.

“It was not sufficient to give a generic warning to the jury addressing all of the lies or statements made by Ms Dent.

“Despite the strength of the prosecution case, the judge’s directions as to the lies was, in all the circumstances of this case, inadequate and may have led to a miscarriage of justice.”

It is unclear when the second trial will be held.

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