Wife tells accused ‘I love you’

THE wife of accused murderer Steven Mark John Fennell mouthed the words "I love you" to her husband as she left the Supreme Court witness box on Friday afternoon.

Defence lawyer Michael Gatenby with Steven Fennell's wife, Helen, far right, leaving court. Photo: Judith Kerr

Defence lawyer Michael Gatenby with Steven Fennell's wife, Helen, far right, leaving court. Photo: Judith Kerr

Helen Fennell told the court her husband ran errands and acted as a handyman for Macleay Island grandmother Liselotte Watson, whose body was found in a pool of blood on the bedroom floor of her Alistair Court home on Macleay Island on November 13, 2012.

Fennell, 56, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mrs Watson.

Mrs Fennell said her husband visited Mrs Watson frequently after "inheriting" her when he bought a junk-mail delivery business on the island in 2010.

She said Mrs Watson was an intelligent but lonely woman who valued her husband's conversation and thought highly of him.

She said Fennell, who did the grocery shopping and banking for Mrs Watson, had withdrawn $8000 for the 85-year-old on Friday, November 9.

Two days later, Mrs Watson had telephoned the Fennell house on Sunday morning, and had seemed agitated that she could not get hold of Fennell to ask him to do her grocery shopping.

Mrs Fennell told the court her husband had been out on his weekly pamphlet deliveries and when he returned home she told him Mrs Watson had phoned.

She said Fennell had gone to Mrs Watson's house that afternoon. He returned home without seeing Mrs Watson to watch his favourite TV show, Merlin.

Alistair Court resident Evette Uzzell told the court earlier that she had seen Mrs Watson at her letterbox on Monday, November 12 at 9.30am.

Newspaper owner Tim Barker also said he saw Mrs Watson in Alistair Court on the Monday morning.

Mrs Watson's body was discovered on Tuesday by Fennell and Macleay Island police officer, Sergeant Dave MacDougall.

Mrs Fennell told the court that she had raised  the subject of Mrs Watson with her husband after he had finished work on the Tuesday.

She said Fennell had phoned Mrs Watson and been to her place a couple of times without seeing her.

She said both of them believed it was unusual that Mrs Watson had not been in touch so Fennell had gone to the police station about 3.45pm on the Tuesday.

Mrs Fennell said when her husband returned about 5.45pm he told her "she's dead."

On the fifth day of the trial, the court also heard testimony from carpenter Mark Raymond Robinson, who had seen a white utility parked in Alistair Court on Monday, November 12 around 11am. 

The court also heard about a missing updated statement of Mr Robinson's evidence.

Mary Frances Roberts, who lived behind Mrs Watson in Hastings Terrace, told the court she was surprised the lights were not turned on in Mrs Watson's house on the night of Monday, November 12. 

"Mrs Watson's lights were always on. The two lights on the west side of the house,'' she said.

Ms Roberts also said she was awoken when her cat jumped on her about 2.40am because of dogs barking in her street.

She said she heard a man mumbling, then some more dogs barking further along the road before a car drove away.

The trial continues before Justice Martin Daubney next week.