A man accused of murdering his first wife and trying to kill his second was given the nickname “Doctor Death” by one of his former lovers, a court has been told.
Malcolm Webster, 51, is accused of murdering Claire Morris in Aberdeenshire in May 1994 and pocketing more than £200,000 in insurance payouts after her death.
He denies drugging her, deliberately crashing a car she was a passenger in, and then setting fire to it.
He is also accused of trying to kill his second wife Felicity Drumm in New Zealand five years later to obtain £750,000 from separate insurance policies.
The trial at the High Court in Glasgow heard the nurse was given the nickname “Doctor Death” while he was enrolled on a course in assisted death and euthanasia. The 50-year-old told the court that one of her friends had thought of the nickname, but she used it in jest.
Advocate Depute Derek Ogg QC asked her about Webster’s studies. He said: “He was studying palliative care or care of the dying?” Ms Hancock replied: “Yes.” He asked: “Was the course called assisted death and euthanasia?”
Ms Hancock, from Northampton, first met Webster in Glasgow in 2004 but did not begin a relationship with him until late 2007. But the relationship ended after Ms Hancock was contacted by the police who warned her about her partner.
She was given a letter from the chief constable of Grampian Police. Taking a moment to compose herself, Ms Hancock described how she was left in a state of “shock” by the letter.
“I just didn’t believe it was true,” she said. “I didn’t recognise the person they were talking about.” She later called Webster, who admitted that he still had a wife and son in New Zealand. She said she was left “too upset” to take in what he was saying.
Webster denies the charges against him. The trial, before Lord Bannatyne, was adjourned until Monday.