Wife charged with mur­der­ing hus­band

Wangaratta Chronicle - - News -

Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 3, 2008

THE Kialla woman ac­cused of mur­der­ing her hus­band of three days, Glen­rowan man Patrick Plumbe, as­saulted him be­fore his still-breath­ing body was put be­hind the wheel of his car and set alight, a court has heard.

Mr Plumbe’s charred body was found in his burnt-out util­ity on the night of April 28, 2005, in what was orig­i­nally treated as a sin­gle ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dent - it ap­peared the 60-year-old had driven off Adams Road in the Warby Range and col­lided with a tree.

How­ever, Mr Plumbe’s body was ex­humed in June 2006 and his widow - and sole ben­e­fi­ciary of his $1m es­tate - Mar­garet Van­der­gu­lik, was charged with his mur­der.

As the Supreme Court trial be­gan in Wan­garatta yes­ter­day, Crown pros­e­cu­tor Peter Rose SC said Van­der­gu­lik had con­fessed to a for­mer boyfriend that she and Mr Plumbe had ar­gued on the night of his death, and that she had pushed him in self­de­fence.

How­ever, Mr Rose ar­gued the as­sault oc­curred out of “an in­ten­tion to kill, or cause se­ri­ous in­jury”, in a bid to claim his for­tune. He said she then had his body put into the util­ity, and it was driven into a tree to make it look like the de­lib­er­ately lit blaze was the re­sult of an ac­ci­dent.

Mr Rose told the jury ev­i­dence would be pre­sented in the com­ing weeks that showed Mr Plumbe had suf­fered from blunt head trauma, con­sis­tent with be­ing hit over the head.

He added that ex­perts es­ti­mated Mr Plumbe’s speed on im­pact was 30kph, which was un­likely to cause a fire.

“The ev­i­dence points to the in­ter­ven­tion of some­one else in the death of the de­ceased,” he said.

“Patrick Plumbe didn’t drive him­self into the tree.” Au­topsy re­sults have re­vealed Mr Plumbe was still breath­ing at the time of the fire - a fact Mr Rose said Van­der­gu­lik, a re­tired nurse, must have been aware of. The cou­ple met in 2003 and were mar­ried at the Wan­garatta Court­house on April 26, 2005 - it was the third mar­riage for both par­ties, and came af­ter Mr Plumbe had re­tired af­ter 40 years of em­ploy­ment with Tel­stra. They signed amended wills, which made each the sole ben­e­fi­ciary of the other’s es­tate, the day af­ter the wed­ding. The trial con­tin­ues to­day be­fore Jus­tice Mur­ray Kel­lam, with the jury sched­uled to view the scene of the ac­ci­dent.

IN COURT: Wheel­chair-bound Mar­garet Van­der­gu­lik, charged with the mur­der of her hus­band Patrick Plumbe, is pushed into court yes­ter­day by a fam­ily mem­ber.

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