Judge throws the book at ‘Black Widow’

The only suntan Helen Elizabeth Milner will be getting for the next few years, will be a striped one… from behind bars (as the old saying goes).

There was never any doubt that she would be in for a long jail sentence, the debate was just over ‘how long’?

The defence in their submission before sentencing was pronounced, had asked for a minimum non-parole period of just 10 years, with a small uplift by his honour to take into account any aggravating factors. The prosecution pointed out the premeditation and planning that had taken place before the murder, and the attempts to cover it up as a suicide afterwards, and they requested a minimum non-parole period of 18 years.

Justice David Gendall today pronounced sentence for the woman dubbed “the Black Widow”. A life sentence is mandatory and parole is not necessarily granted at the earliest opportunity… if ever. The judge declared that in this case, Ms Milner must spend a minimum of 17 years in jail, before the possibility of parole. She was given a first warning under the ‘three strikes’ law. (If she kills any more people, she’ll get in really BIG trouble !). A six year sentence for attempted murder will be served concurrently.

She was found guilty in December 2013 of murdering her husband Philip James Nisbet, 47, by drugging him with Phenergan and probably smothering him while he was unconscious.

At stake was a life insurance payout of some $250,000. Other members of the family are thought to be considering a case to claim a share of that insurance money for themselves. (I guess they might as well, Helen won’t be ducking down the mall on a shopping spree anytime soon).

Since the guilty verdict was released in late December, it has been revealed that Helen Milner was already in jail serving more than two years for perverting the course of justice. She had deliberately “set up” one of her own sons for a crime he didn’t commit. It has also come to light that she had been cut out of her mother’s will in 2006. Anne Milner believes her daughter is either mentally ill, or evil. Helen had been a theiving little toe-rag in her school days, and it seems she’s been making the same choices all her adult life.

Helen Milner has been before the courts before, for stealing from employers in the past.

(It’s a sad and sorry tale for New Zealand policing to think that she so very nearly got away with killing her husband. The crudely staged suicide attempt shouldn’t have fooled anyone). Earlier it was reported that the first two police officers on the scene, did not believe it was a suicide and told their superiors as much.

But it took a direction from the coroner and two years of pressure from Philip Nisbet’s sister, Lee-Anne Cartier (who lives in Australia) to get the police to do a more thorough investigation.

After Detective Inspector Greg Murton came on the scene, things started happening as they should have right from the beginning. After the guilty verdict was delivered in December 2013, Andrew Nisbet made a point of thanking the police (including D.I. Murton) for all their hard work.


Edmonds Garden park public concert, enjoyed by good crowd

Sunday 16 February 2014 was a fantastic day, maxxing out at about 23*C, partly cloudy but with a bit of a breeze springing up later in the day.

A team of volunteers had worked overtime to have everything ready for the free public concert in the Edmonds “Sure To Rise” garden park on Ferry Road in Phillipstown, Christchurch, New Zealand.

The densely planted park environment gave shelter from most of the wind and an adjacent open playing field had been opened up to provide extra car-parking.

In December 2013 a two hour concert attracted a small crowd. Today’s concert which ran from 12 noon to 4pm saw well over a hundred people enjoying an afternoon of free musical entertainment. Even more people had been there earlier in the day, although some had left by the time I arrived.

Some people were dressed in historic clothing, and the crowd had spilled out of the main garden area into the surrounding parts of the park (not visible in this video). “Stedfast Brass” were playing when I arrived at about 3.30pm. I do not know what bands may have played earlier.

A big thankyou to all the musicians and volunteer helpers who gave of their time and talents to enable this free concert.

Advertising of these occasional concerts is very limited. A handful of times a year, a banner hangs up at the Ferry Road pedestrian entrance to the park in the week or so preceding a free concert.

I will be looking forward to the next concert and hope to arrive somewhat earlier… Today I had been delayed when I got (very pleasantly) sidelined by attending a simply amazing brunch and private recital provided by Helen, a harpist with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, and Sean a talented Citar player.

UPDATED – Justice finally served for murdered Ashburton mum

Sina Nerisa Solomona was murdered in her Ashburton home in the early hours of the morning, on the 15th of December 2012. She was just 22-years-old. Examinations discovered that she had also suffered a sexual assault before her death.


Police investigations led them to charge a juvenile (who has name suppression) with several offences.  He was just 16-years-old at the time. 


In October 2012, in the Timaru High Court, sitting at Christchurch, he pled guilty to both Murder and Unlawful Sexual Connection charges.


At the request of defence counsel  Elizabeth Bulger, Justice Graham Panckhurst had continued the earlier order for name suppression, additionally he suppressed the making public of the Statement Of Facts, until the day of sentencing.

This in itself is most unusual. At the time Justice Panckhurst was quoted in other media as saying “This, however, is an unusual case, firstly, on account of your age – 16 years – and on account of the circumstances of the offending”.


The juvenile was supposed to be getting his come-uppance at Timaru High Court on Friday the 14th of February (perhaps a cruel irony, being Valentine’s Day, a day when many people celebrate their love and caring for each other) however the date has been put off.


Delays often occur in as the wheels of justice turn. and many delays are unavoidable. It takes time to conduct probation reports, psychiatric examinations and other court ordered and quite necessary investigations and reports. 


 However it’s disappointing that in this case, a public outcome has been delayed yet again. Many suppressions are expected when dealing with juveniles through the court system, but this tragic case, which gripped the Ashburton community in December 2012, deserves to have a full public airing, including the publication of the facts of the case.


 The court session where sentencing will take place, and where “hopefully” the facts of the case will be made public as well as the name of the person who committed the sex-crime and murder, will probably be sometime in March. However an exact date is not known for sure..


 Here is a link to an earlier version of the story from the Press Newspaper’s website.




UPDATED…Sentence was FINALLY pronounced on 31 July 2014 in the High Court sitting at Christchurch.

According to the Christchurch Press newspaper’s ‘Stuff’ website : “… Bronson Kelekolio hung his head as details of his knife and sex attack on Sina Nerisa Solomona, 22, were read in Christchurch’s High Court at his sentencing for murder today. …”

Turns out that, exactly as I had guessed, he is her brother, well step-brother at least.

I had guessed as much, going by the unusual array of suppressions and delays that have delayed the delivery of justice in this case. It’s worth noting that some suppressions are STILL in force, relating to legal proceedings that happened on 6 June. Those suppressions *might* be lifted at a later date, either by the High Court, or by an Appeals Court.

Here’s a link to the Press Newspaper Stuff website article, by senior court reporter David Clarkson.