Murder trial faces new delay

A WIDOW will face a four-day wait before giving evidence in the trial of the decorator accused of shooting dead her husband in the garden of their Caribbean holiday home.

By Richard Smith

A WIDOW will face a four-day wait before giving evidence in the trial of the decorator accused of shooting dead her husband in the garden of their Caribbean holiday home.

Margaret Fetherston, of Woodbridge, was supposed to take the witness stand at St Kitts High Court yesterday .

She was due to give her harrowing account of the moment her 65-year-old husband Tony was shot dead on the island more than four years ago.

But her testimony, which had already been delayed once, was put back until Tuesday when a juror fell sick.

Judge Davidson Baptiste said the case could not proceed until the juror felt better.

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This was yet another setback in the long-awaited trial of Joseph Hazel, 30, who lived close to the family's holiday home in Fortlands, on the outskirts of Basseterre. He denies murder.

The trial, already postponed five times in nearly three years, was also delayed on Tuesday when another trial overran. It finally started on Thursday.

Yesterday, the trial took a slow start when Henry Browne, defending Hazel, failed to arrive on time. He told the judge that he had misunderstood when the trial was due to start. There was only time for short appearances by witnesses when the judge had to stop the trial.

It is understood that the court will not sit on Monday because the judge has another engagement. Mr Merchant said afterwards that in a trial involving a capital charge they could not bring in a new juror who would not have heard the previous witnesses.

It is unclear what will happen next week if the woman is too ill to carry on being a juror. But the worst case scenario is another delay of weeks or months because the prosecution would have to fly in forensic scientists who have already given evidence and returned to England.

Mrs Fetherston said last night: ''A witness being ill is not something anybody could do anything about. They have to have the 12 good men and women on the jury and if one of the jury is too ill, then it is bad luck. I pray that it goes ahead on Tuesday, please God.

''I am not really feeling anything at the moment, just the frustration factor. You have to go with the flow in the Caribbean but it is a bit slow at the moment.''

Peter Allcorn, the British honorary consul, is a close friend of the family. He was living in Frigate Bay, about three miles from their holiday home, at the time of Mr Fetherston's death.

Mr Allcorn told the jury he received a call from Mrs Fetherston at about 8.10pm on January 26 and he travelled to her home via Basseterre police station to alert officers.

''When I reached the Fetherston's residence the gate was opened and I went in and Tony was on the lawn and he looked as if he was no longer with us. He had a big hole in his chest about 3 inches in diameter and his wife was at the other end of the lawn and she obviously appeared to be in shock. I took her inside and the police arrived shortly after and they were followed by the doctor,'' said Mr Allcorn.

Mr Fetherston, born in Frinton, was a former RAF pilot who retired aged 52 from his family freight forwarding company. He divided his time between his mansion on the banks of the River Deben, Woodbridge, and the holiday home in St Kitts where they lived for three to four months during the winter.

Mr and Mrs Fetherston were well known by the Kittitians and the ex-pat community.

The trial continues.

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