Dent conviction 'unsafe' on the evidence

Wendie-Sue Dent (centre) was found guilty of the murder of her de facto husband David Lawrence.
Wendie-Sue Dent (centre) was found guilty of the murder of her de facto husband David Lawrence.

The murder conviction of a NSW woman, who poisoned her partner in Adelaide with a toxic cocktail of drugs including morphine, valium and tramadol, was both unsafe and unsatisfactory based on the evidence, a court has heard.

Wendie-Sue Dent has launched an appeal against her conviction for the murder of her de facto husband David Lawrence in December 2015.

She had denied the charge at her trial but was found guilty by a jury in April.

Defence counsel Marie Shaw QC told the Court of Criminal Appeal on Thursday that Dent's conviction flew in the face of a considerable body of evidence of the loving relationship the couple had shared before Mr Lawrence's death.

She said there was evidence the pair were "besotted" with each other, had become engaged and planned to marry and that he had made arrangements for her to be taken care of after his death.

"They're living together, they're travelling together and they plan, essentially, to be happy together for the rest of their lives," Ms Shaw said.

"That was the common thread throughout the evidence, that the deceased was happy with her and that they were living and behaving as if their lives would be together."

The court was also told suggestions that a "powder keg" had been created by the fact Mr Lawrence had twigged to Dent being a fraud, based on lies she had told about her past, and that he was planning to end the relationship was just speculation.

In other grounds of appeal, Dent has questioned the use made in the trial of the lies the Crown said she told and the lack of proper instructions given to the jury.

Ms Shaw said the Crown had also not properly discounted the possibility that Mr Lawrence's death was an accident.

At her trial, the prosecution said Dent, who lived at Dapto in NSW's Illawarra region before her arrest, administered Mr Lawrence a mixture of dangerous medications that had all been prescribed to her.

A post-mortem examination revealed the toxic levels of morphine alone were enough to kill the 62-year-old.

In sentencing submissions last month, the dead man's family said he was helpful and kind to everyone but paid for that with his life.

"It takes no effort for us to hate you. We will never forgive you, never. You do not deserve that," they told Dent in a victim impact statement read to the court.

In those same submissions, defence counsel Martin Anders asked the court to consider Dent's medical history when setting a non-parole period, describing her as someone with a profound opioid addiction who had operated in a "drug-induced fog".

But prosecutor Emily Telfer said there was no evidence of Dent being in a fog or removed from reality.

The appeal court hearing was continuing. Dent is due to be sentenced next week.

Australian Associated Press