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Girlfriend accused of poisoning farmer Mathew Dunbar googled redback spiders and mushrooms

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How a Google search for ‘creepy crawlies’ could send a wife to prison for allegedly poisoning her sheep farmer husband

  • Natasha Beth Darcy, 46, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mathew Dunbar, 42
  • Dunbar was found dead in his home north of NSW near Walcha in August 2017
  • Vet nurse has pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the NSW grazier’s suicide
  • Crown rejects her plea saying $3.5million estate motivated Darcy to murder
  • Darcy googled redback spiders and mushrooms six months before his death

Google searches about redback spiders may have related to ‘creepy crawlies’ in the house rather than a potential poisoning method, a NSW woman’s murder trial has been told.

And searches relating to mushrooms could have related to checking on edible fungi around the rural property, Natasha Beth Darcy’s barrister told the Supreme Court jury on Tuesday.

The 46-year-old has denied sedating and gassing her sheep farmer partner Mathew Dunbar, who was found dead on his Pandora property in the Northern Tablelands town of Walcha on August 2, 2017.

Natasha Beth Darcy, 46, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mathew Dunbar after the 42-year-old sheep farmer was found dead in his home near Walcha, northern New South Wales, on August 2, 2017

Natasha Beth Darcy, 46, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mathew Dunbar after the 42-year-old sheep farmer was found dead in his home near Walcha, northern New South Wales, on August 2, 2017

She contends the 42-year-old killed himself, but the Crown has rejected her guilty plea to aiding or abetting suicide alleging his death was murder motivated by inheriting his $3.5 million property.

Prosecutor Brett Hatfield has suggested Darcy started looking for ways to murder Mr Dunbar by poison in February 2017, citing searches on her iPhone and on a computer.

But in her closing address to the jury, Darcy’s barrister Janet Manuell SC asked if that was the only reasonable inference to be made from the searches on mushrooms and redback spiders.

She also questioned whether other people in the household could have made the searches.

Darcy had only been living at the property for about three or four months in February 2017.

‘Were there lots of redback spiders around the property?’ Ms Manuell asked.

‘Were there spiders in the house, the usual creepy crawlies?’

Darcy (pictured) has pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting suicide but the Crown has rejected the plea, saying Mr Dunbar's $3.5million estate motivated her to murder

Darcy (pictured) has pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting suicide but the Crown has rejected the plea, saying Mr Dunbar’s $3.5million estate motivated her to murder

The barrister asked why Darcy and the other householders wouldn’t want to know more about what they were seeing.

Referring to mushroom searches, she suggested they were checking on fungi they could not eat.

‘When’s mushroom season around Walcha?.’

She reminded the jury the prosecution needed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

‘Because things might look suspicious when you first see them, but is there any other reasonable explanation for the evidence you have heard?’

She said the Crown needed to exclude as a reasonable possibility that Mr Dunbar died by his own hand.

Darcy, the sole beneficiary of a Dunbar's estate (pictured) - now accused of murdering him and casting it as suicide – googled redback spiders and mushrooms six months before his death

Darcy, the sole beneficiary of a Dunbar’s estate (pictured) – now accused of murdering him and casting it as suicide – googled redback spiders and mushrooms six months before his death

‘If you think there is a reasonable possibility that he did die by his own hand, committed suicide, then the Crown cannot satisfy you of the elements of murder beyond a reasonable doubt.’

She went through Mr Dunbar’s history of being adopted, of working alone with his father on the farm until his father died, being estranged from his mother and the effect on him of the suicide death of a close friend in April 2017.

She also rejected the Crown contention that Darcy had been spending all her partner’s money.

‘We say she wasn’t.’

Ms Manuell is continuing her address.

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