Husband threatened to kill expat wife, daughter tells court

THE daughter of a Scottish woman allegedly murdered and buried in a back garden in Australia 20 years ago has told how her stepfather had threaten to kill her mother if she left him.

Melanie MacEachen said stepfather David Slater feared her mother Cariad Anderson-Slater would run off with his money.

Another man, Ronald Pennington, 82, is charged with murdering Mrs Anderson-Slater, whose remains were found last year at his home in Perth, Western Australia.

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Mrs Anderson-Slater, from Elgin, Moray, was 42 when she vanished on 13 July 1992, just two years after she moved to Western Australia with her husband and son. Pennington, a retired teacher, had befriended the couple and Mrs Anderson-Slater was seen going to his house on the day she disappeared.

Miss MacEachen, a doctor, travelled from Aberdeen to give evidence at Perth’s Supreme Court yesterday. She described visiting her mother and Mr Slater, 61, in South Australia, before they moved to Perth. On her visit, she had gone out with her mother to a pub. Mr Slater arrived and threatened to kill himself if his wife did not come home. Later that day, when Miss MacEachen returned to the couple’s home without her mother, she found Mr Slater sitting in the dark and had a conversation with him about her mother.

Miss MacEachen said he had told her he feared her mother might run off and take money he had stashed in an account.

She told the jury: “He said if she did that, he would kill her.”

Miss MacEachen said she understood Mr Slater had been upset and angry because of her mother’s binge drinking. She said she thought his anger unjustified and worried about his comments, though she believed he would not act on them.

Her mother, she said, was a loving woman who became argumentative and flirtatious when drinking. She said: “You wouldn’t equate the two people.”

On the first day of his trial, Pennington’s defence team denied he had any role in the murder and blamed Mr Slater.

The court was told in the days following his wife’s disappearance Mr Slater cut up his wedding photos, changed his will and took up with another woman. Mr Slater, a chemicals marketing manager, denied he was his wife’s killer.

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He said: “I cut up our wedding photos, I felt rejected. I felt abandoned, like the wedding was a sham, I was feeling very depressed.”

Pennington was extradited from his home in Tasmania following the discovery of Mrs Slater’s remains last February.

The trial continues.