Poison Murderer plans Privy Council appeal

September 20, 2015 by Keren Cook
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A South African-born psychiatrist convicted of slowly poisoning his third wife to death in their Dunedin home in New Zealand in January 2000 says he is now “a changed man”.

He objected to a post-mortem at the time because his wife was Jewish and needed be buried within 48 hours.

His recent parole report confirms Colin Bouwer admitting to the board that his defence at his trial was “wrong”.

Bouwer has rediscovered his Jewishness.

Colin Bouwer

Colin Bouwer

Annette Bouwer, 47, was diagnosed after her death as suffering from an underlying illness, – a rare neurological disease, and this is likely to form the basis of an application for leave to appeal to the Privy Council.

Bouwer denies the murder charge, claiming his wife’s death was suicide and plans to appeal to the Privy Council.

“He says that he and his wife had a long standing agreement that in the event that one of them suffered a terminal illness they would assist the other to die, and that, ultimately, this is what he did, with her agreement, using insulin, which he had obtained using forged prescriptions,” says the board.

Bouwer will now spend another year in prison before facing deportment, but not before an appeal against his murder conviction is lodged.

Bower took legal advice during his trial not to tell his side of the story and not to use the euthanasia explanation.

In November 2001, a jury took less than three hours to find him guilty. He was sentenced In the Christchurch High Court to life imprisonment and has served his non-parole period of 15 years.

Bouwer, 65, appeared before the Parole Board via AVL link from Rolleston Prison on Friday, September 11.

He reassured the board he would never practise medicine again or have access to medication. He was formerly the head of psychological medicine at Dunedin hospital.

Bouwer also acknowledged the suffering he had caused his wife’s family in South Africa.

The Case

Bouwer told the court how over many weeks he administered drugs to his wife, seeking to replicate the onset of disease, so her death would seem to be due to illness.

Bouwer drugged his wife to emulate the symptoms of a tumour. He used a combination of sedatives and hypoglycaemia – inducing drugs obtained with forged prescriptions.

On the night she was in her final coma, he suggested the family go out for a late walk on the beach. When they returned Annette would have been comatose. However, Bouwer slept in a different room and his wife died alone.

During the trial Bouwer was quoted by Brenda Ruddock, his wife’s sister in South Africa, claiming it would be “easy to commit the perfect murder in New Zealand because the police were not equipped to handle complicated cases”.

The prosecution alleged Bouwer had tried to make his wife’s death look like an illness so he could claim life insurance and live with his lover and colleague Anne Walsh.

Walsh maintained Bouwer was innocent and their relationship began after his wife’s death. The court also heard Bouwer had a history of abusing pethidine, a pain-relief drug.

Interestingly, he had been declared an impaired doctor by South African authorities during the 1980s. His impaired status was revoked in 1992.

In a bizarre coincidence, the court heard Bouwer’s son, who shares his father’s name, was also on trial for the murder of his own wife, in their Johannesburg home. 

Case for possible Privy Council Appeal

More said Bouwer always considered that his wife had an underlying illness, and she refused to get medical help.

“He now acknowledges he did an extraordinarily stupid thing,” says More.

Bouwer claims he administered his wife drugs so she would go to hospital in order for doctors “to find the underlying illness . . . which never happened”.

Bouwer drugged his wife to emulate the symptoms of a tumour. He used a combination of sedatives and hypoglycaemia-inducing drugs obtained with forged prescriptions

His defence at the trial was suicide, not assisted suicide, More said. “And he now says the death was an assisted suicide.”

Mrs Bouwer’s diagnosis of the rare neurological disease myasthenia gravis was by imminent consultant neurologist Rudy Capildeo, of London, which would form part of the appeal, said More.

Symptoms of the disease include double vision, difficulty swallowing, and paralysis.

The right to appeal from New Zealand-based courts to the United Kingdom-based Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was abolished from January 1, 2004 with the establishment of the Supreme Court.

However, under the Supreme Court Act 2003, certain appeals can continue to be determined by the Privy Council,

Bouwer serving another year in prison would allow time for that appeal, although More confirmed it would still go ahead even when his client was deported.

“I discussed that with him, if he was released then a decision to proceed with that appeal would happen, “ says More.

His lawyer also confirmed Bouwer was practising Judaism – his mother was Jewish and he wore a skullcap.

It was because his wife was Jewish that Bouwer objected to a post-mortem, maintaining she had to be buried within 48 hours.

Instead her doctor, Dr Andrew Bowers, ordered a post-mortem instead of signing her death certificate.

Annette was later cremated following a Christian service.

Bouwer was arrested in September 15, 2000, following a lengthy police investigation that also including surveillance of his phone calls.

A changed man and ‘model’ prisoner

“Mr Bouwer professes to be a changed man and says that, in rediscovering his Jewish roots, and his Messianic enlightment, he has matured,” says the parole board.

His son and many supporters attested to those changes, while an unnamed supporter urged the board to release him on compassionate grounds and to save the taxpayer money.

He was assessed at being of low risk of re-offending.

However, the board was not convinced or satisfied that Bouwer had reached a point where he no longer posed an undue risk.

“We are concerned about the numerous untruths that Mr Bouwer has told over the years and find it difficult to ascertain where the truth lies,” the board noted.

The parole board’s decision confirmed Bouwer will need to see a psychologist before he appears before the board in August 2016.

Bouwer’s Dunedin-based lawyer Mr David More questioned why his client, who had been a “model prisoner” and served the required minimum non-parole period without incident, should stay behind bars another year.

“If Corrections wanted him to see a psychologist before he was paroled they have had 15 years to it . . . it is pretty stupid that they should wait until his time is up before they raise it.”

Bouwer committed the crime within two years of being granted a New Zealand residence permit, and was served a deportation order in 2002.

He had opposed that deportation order, “but he has changed his mind”, More said. He planned to live with a cousin in Durban, South Africa.

Bouwer’s health had deteriorated while in prison and lawyer Mr More says his client “he has become more reflective, and has had more time to think’.”

More said Bouwer always considered that his wife had an underlying illness, and she refused to get medical help.

“He now acknowledges he did an extraordinarily stupid thing,” says Mr More.


Earlier this week Immigration New Zealand confirmed Bouwer would be deported at the end of his sentence.

“Every case is considered on its merits but it is usual for NZ to deport a foreign national who has served a prison sentence and falls within its remit,” a spokesman said.

The department declined to comment further “on this particular case for privacy reasons”.


One Response to “Poison Murderer plans Privy Council appeal”
  1. norman goldbereg says:


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