A man who was found guilty of murdering his disabled wife by pushing her wheelchair into a pond has lost a second appeal against his conviction.

Peter Rex Dansie, 75, was sentenced to life in prison for killing his wife, Helen, who drowned in a pond in Adelaide’s southern parklands in April 2017, in what the sentencing judge called “ultimate evil” and a “despicable act of domestic violence”.

Following a trial by judge alone, Dansie was sentenced to life imprisonment with a 25 year non-parole period in 2020.

Helen Dansie drowned in a pond at Veale Gardens in Adelaide in 2017.(Supplied: SA Police)

During the trial, prosecutors alleged Dansie murdered his wife because he regarded her as a financial burden, and had developed an interest in pursuing a sexual relationship with another woman in China.

Mrs Dansie, a former microbiologist, suffered a stroke in the 1990s that left her with long-term disabilities.

She was on an indexed pension for life, a large portion of which Dansie was entitled to as her full-time carer, the Supreme Court was told at the time.

Dansie denied that he pushed his wife into the pond deliberately, and argued that he had attempted to do all he thought he could to save her from drowning.

The court rejected his claim, describing Mrs Dansie’s murder as “evil and despicable” and the “ultimate act of domestic violence”.

Dansie ‘deliberately’ pushed wheelchair into pond

Dansie originally had an appeal against his conviction rejected in South Australia’s Court of Appeal in 2020.

But he took his fight to the High Court two years later which unanimously found the appeal court misapplied the law, granting him a rehearing.

In the Court of Appeal on Thursday, Chief Justice Chris Kourakis, Justice David Bleby and Justice Sophie David unanimously dismissed Dansie’s appeal and ordered that his conviction and sentence stand.

A Veale Gardens pond is drained after a woman died there last weekend, April 19, 2017.(ABC News: Ben Pettitt)

“Following our independent review of all the evidence … we are satisfied the evidence was sufficient in nature and quality to eliminate any reasonable doubt that the appellant was guilty of the offence of murder,” the judgement said.

“We are satisfied as a result of our own assessment of the whole of the evidence adduced at trial that the only rational inference available on the evidence was that the appellant deliberately pushed the wheelchair into the pond with an intention to kill his wife.”

Dansie’s son — Grant Dansie — spoke outside court, and said the outcome was a “big relief” and that he finally felt that justice had been served.

Grant Dansie says he feels justice has been served.(ABC News: Bethanie Alderson)

“It has been seven years and it’s been back and forth and mistrials, and appeals courts and the High Court, so we’re really, really happy to get it over and done with,” he said.

“We finally feel justice has been served after so many years.”

He paid tribute to his mother outside court as a “beautiful” and “kind” woman.

“Mum was fantastic … and everybody liked her,” he said. 

“The person I am today is because of Mum, because she was always there and stood up for me and looked after me and led me to become a good person like herself.”

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