A PENSIONER has been found guilty of killing a Scots expat and burying her remains in his back garden in Australia 23 years ago.
Ronald Pennington, 86, was found guilty of the manslaughter of Cariad Anderson-Slater, whose remains were found in the garden of his former home, after standing trial for a fourth time.
Mrs Anderson-Slater, originally from Elgin, Moray, moved to Australia in 1990 before vanishing two years later, aged 42.
Her whereabouts remained a mystery until her body was discovered in 2011 when workers dug up the garden of Pennington’s former home in Perth, Western Australia.
Pennington was found guilty of the killing in 2012, but his conviction was quashed when a court of appeal found the judge had misdirected the jury. He was then retried in 2013, but jurors failed to reach a verdict and the case was abandoned.
A third trial collapsed last year after jurors discussed information about previous trials.
His latest trial at the West Australian Supreme Court heard Mrs Anderson-Slater and her husband David Slater had befriended Pennington after arriving in Perth a couple of months before her disappearance.
Pennington, a retired school teacher and Korean War veteran, denied he had any role in her death and pinned the blame on her husband.
Prosecutor Justin Whalley said on the night before the alleged killing, Mrs Anderson-Slater and her husband had dinner with Mr Pennington at his home, but it ended after there was an argument about the Royal family and republicanism.
Mr Whalley said Mrs Anderson-Slater and her husband then had another argument at their home over her drinking, and she ended up going to the next-door neighbour’s house.
He told the court she later telephoned Mr Pennington and caught a taxi to the street where he lived.
He said: “The taxi driver watched her until she got to the front door of a house. She went inside and was never seen again.”
The jury deliberated for about four hours before finding Pennington guilty following a 10-day trial. Mrs Anderson Slater’s daughter Melanie MacEachen, a doctor from Aberdeen, was in court for the trial and cried as the verdict was delivered.
Pennington has been remanded in custody until a sentencing hearing in September.
Pennington’s defence lawyer Simon Frietag had claimed that Mr Slater was responsible for her death.
Citing Mr Slater’s self-published book Cry from an Unholy Grave, Mr Frietag said he had underplayed the seriousness of an argument before her death and he and was back on the dating scene a few days after his wife’s disappearance.
He said Mr Slater also changed his will nine days after she vanished, describing himself as a widower.
Mr Whalley said that scenario was highly improbable.
While Mr Slater was initially the main suspect, police in that first investigation had only given Pennington’s house a cursory search and he wasn’t interviewed, Mr Whalley said.
He said Pennington had also lied about receiving a phone call from Mrs Anderson-Slater after the couple returned home from dinner, but later “came clean”.