He told private detective of fears two months before death American banker Robert Kissel suspected his wife was poisoning his scotch about two months before she allegedly served him a sedative-laced milkshake and bludgeoned him to death, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday. Frank Shea, owner of the Alpha Group, a New York private detective agency, said his client expressed concerns that his wife, Nancy Ann Kissel, 40, was trying to kill him shortly after he returned to Hong Kong from a New York trip for back surgery on August 23, 2003. 'He was quite upset ... He believed his wife was trying to poison him,' Mr Shea, a prosecution witness, told the court yesterday. Recalling a telephone conversation with Kissel in late August, he said: 'Mr Kissel said when he returned from work in the evening he would find a decanter of Scotch in the living room. [He said] the scotch didn't taste normal to him and that the effects of the scotch were quite remarkable. It made him woozy and disoriented.' Worried that his client's life was in danger, Mr Shea advised him to collect a sample of the scotch and to have his blood or urine tested. He also told him to contact the police and a lawyer. But his client did not follow his advice. 'From the first day he indicated to me his wife was going to kill him - he just couldn't believe that it was going to happen,' he said. When the detective visited Hong Kong and met Kissel at the China Club on September 1, 2003, his client told him he 'felt guilty about his suspicions'. He said Kissel sometimes thought his marriage was getting better and then he would find evidence that his wife was still communicating with her alleged lover, Michael del Priore. Nancy Kissel has pleaded not guilty to murdering her husband, who was Asia-Pacific managing director of global principal products for Merrill Lynch, on or around November 2, 2003. His body was found rolled up in a carpet in a storeroom near their home in Parkview, Tai Tam. At the request of Robert Kissel, Mr Shea sent private detective Rocco Gatta to spy on the defendant in Stratton, Vermont, in June and July 2003, where she was staying with her three children to escape the Sars outbreak. Kissel told him to watch out for Mr del Priore, who he described as a white Caucasian, who was very fit, in his late-20s to mid-30s. The deceased paid about US$24,000 for the 11-day service. The detective said his background search revealed that Mr del Priore, a TV repair man, lived in a trailer or some form of 'pre-fabricated residence' very close to the Kissels' Vermont residence. In cross-examination, Gary Plowman SC, for the defence, asked Mr Shea if he had ever mentioned to the deceased whether the blood or urine test would detect the presence of cocaine. But the detective said he had not used the words 'cocaine' or 'illegal drugs'. 'Did Robert Kissel ever tell you he used cocaine?' asked Mr Plowman. 'Absolutely not,' Mr Shea replied. Bill statements issued by mobile phone companies indicated that no outgoing calls had been made from a phone number registered under the name of Robert Kissel since 5.58pm on November 2, 2003. The bill summaries issued to the defendant revealed that a US overseas number had been dialled numerous times around October. Robert Kissel's secretary at Merrill Lynch, Moris Chan, who testified yesterday, said she had helped arrange for the defendant to fly to San Francisco on November 16 to stay there for about a week. But Ms Chan said she had received an e-mail from Robert Kissel on October 31, 2003, saying: 'Please do not pay until I agree.' She said the defendant had gone to her husband's office to decorate his room with family pictures and pot plants in September while he was away. Government prosecutor Peter Chapman had earlier alleged that the defendant served her husband a large glass of pink milkshake laced with 'a cocktail of sedatives' on November 2, 2003, before bludgeoning him to death. The case continues today before Mr Justice Michael Lunn.