Kissel 'breakdown' claims rejected as lies

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 April, 2008, 12:00am

Nancy Kissel lied about having a breakdown and not being able to remember details of the events leading to her killing of her husband, and the prosecution was entitled to try to disprove those claims, the Court of Appeal heard yesterday.

The acting deputy director of public prosecutions, Kevin Zervos SC, was responding to claims by counsel for Kissel, Gerard McCoy SC, that the trial judge had wrongly allowed her to be cross-examined about documents on her mental state that were submitted during her bail hearing in November 2004.

Those documents were put in on Kissel's behalf in an effort to prove she was fit to be released from the Siu Lam psychiatric facility and did not pose a risk to herself. She was cross-examined at length during her three-month trial about claims in those papers that she was not suffering from any mental illness or disability.

'The defence case was put on a solid foundation of lies,' Mr Zervos said. 'There was no such thing as a meltdown or any memory loss ... it was merely a pretence to avoid having to answer any awkward questions about what happened.'

As such, Mr Zervos said, the prosecution was entitled to quiz Kissel about representations that had been made on her behalf to the effect that she was not suffering from any psychiatric problems.

Mr Zervos said the events surrounding the November 2, 2003, murder showed she was rational and in control of herself throughout.

He said she had drugged her husband, who had begun to suspect she was trying to poison him, by lacing a strawberry milkshake with sleeping drugs and having one of their children present it to him while he was in the company of a neighbour, Andrew Tanzer.

'The milkshake was prepared by [Nancy Kissel]. She's used the daughter to give him the milkshake and she's done it in such a way so that there is someone else there, so he drops his guard.'

Mr Zervos detailed how Mr Tanzer had returned home and about 45 minutes later 'flipped out', and how Nancy Kissel had made sure her husband, who had gone to play with the children outside, returned to the couple's luxury Parkview flat before succumbing to the drugs.

After the murder she had embarked on a cover-up, Mr Zervos said, hiding the body in the bedroom before carefully wrapping it in a sleeping bag and a rug and having it moved to a downstairs storeroom.

'She engaged in extensive activity and she was doing things purposefully and with a clear mind.'

Mr McCoy at this point interjected, asking the court whether it would be appropriate to ask exactly what point it was Mr Zervos was addressing with his recitation of events.

'All of them,' Mr Zervos said. 'You just don't want the facts to get in the way of your argument.'

The hearing continues today before the court vice-president, Mr Justice Michael Stuart-Moore, Mr Justice Frank Stock of the Court of Appeal, and Mr Justice Alan Wright.