An advertising executive retorted loudly across a Central bar that reading the daily twists, turns and salacious allegations made in the trial of Nancy Ann Kissel for the murder of her husband Robert was 'the only thing that got me out of bed in the morning'. While the daily fix is over for this particular high-flyer, Nancy Kissel has now had four days to contemplate a life sentence behind bars, while the fallout from her shocking crime continues in Hong Kong and the US. Labelled Hong Kong's trial of the decade, the revelations over the past 21/2 months in the Court of First Instance have had a firm grip on much of Hong Kong's expat community, with the events that led to Robert Peter Kissel's murder in the couple's luxury apartment on November 2, 2003, leading to endless innuendo, speculation and wild gossip at social gatherings across the city. But it was a different story for those close to the family. Nancy Kissel's accusations brought a mixture of disgust and disbelief to those who knew the family. 'I think many of us realise this defence she was running has never been about what really happened, but about keeping her out of jail,' one close family friend said. Another said there were times when he had to lock himself in a room and scream because he was so angry at the 'unfounded' allegations Nancy Kissel was making against her husband. 'This woman was clearly a bad, angry person,' he said. 'I would be frightened to be close to her. Even [her lover Michael] Del Priore must be thanking his lucky stars he got out of there alive.' Another colleague said: 'The defence didn't help either. There seemed to be this suggestion that it was 'strange' he was talking to his work colleagues about the problems in the marriage. Who else was he going to talk to?' But most tuned in to see if Robert Kissel, whose hard work had seen him scale a very tall earnings tree with his employer Merrill Lynch, was really a drug and alcohol-fuelled sociopath who battered his wife and forced anal sex upon her. They also tuned in to see whether this sordid defence could keep Nancy Kissel, who had admitted to killing her husband, out of jail - 'imagine if she walks?' It was these grubby details early in the case which saw Nancy Kissel lose sympathy or support from most of those close to the family. They have been furious about the slandering of Robert Kissel's character by his wife - and the terrible legacy that leaves for the children. 'Kissel used cocaine and beat his wife? Well, while no-one can ever see behind closed doors, he was just not like that,' said an associate who worked on numerous deals with the banker. 'Sure, he was a wild child in his day, but Robert had become the most dedicated family man you would ever meet. The only boozing was maybe one or two beers at Lan Kwai Fong now and then.' Another concern has been the damage done to the Kissels' three children, who are now back in the US and likely to be subjected to a custody battle. One mother, whose children were friends with the Kissels' two daughters and son, saw the children recently and said that while they seemed to be doing well, the psychological scars were likely to be deep. The murder also forced many parents whose kids knew the popular Kissel children - Elaine, June and Reis - to confront the prickly subject of murder with their children. One witness in the trial said his daughter had discovered Robert Kissel's brother, Andrew, was facing trial for fraud before he did. 'She was right on the ball with the case and followed every twist and turn,' the witness said. Nancy Kissel's supporters and visitors came largely from the Hong Kong International School. One, Geertruida Samra, president of the Parent Faculty Organisation, helped with her bail and regularly visited her in Siu Lam psychiatric centre after the murder. Some of Robert Kissel's friends were also reportedly behind his wife. Jim Laurie, a distinguished former journalist and University of Hong Kong lecturer, along with a number of his students, stood firmly by Nancy Kissel's mother Jean McGlothlin. As the tension mounted when the jury was deliberating, Mr Laurie lashed out at the police investigators, claiming the crime scene was not sealed. He became involved in a heated argument with the deceased's father over evidence and questioned whether the children would be cared for. 'What puts you in a position to judge? You are a local Hong Kong guy trying to ride the coattails of some notoriety,' William Kissel said, accusing Mr Laurie of wanting to cash in on the murder with a book. While many observers might have their own theories on whether the 41-year-old housewife was guilty or innocent, it was only the opinions of the five men and two women who made up the jury that mattered. And they had much to consider in the case now called 'the milkshake murder' in headlines around the world. By the fourth day of Nancy Kissel's testimony, the courtroom was packed, as lawyers, students and domestic helpers scrambled for the 60 available seats. They were often joined by 'Parkview wives', who had come to see the downfall of one of their own. The court was forced to impose crowd-control measures, asking the public to queue in an orderly manner before entering the courtroom. Two marshals were used to guard the entrance, and belongings used to reserve seats over lunch were removed. By August 8, eight weeks after it opened, Nancy Ann Kissel's murder trial was the biggest show in town. Hong Kong's English-language press, including the South China Morning Post, picked up the early interest in the case and ran extensive reports as the saga unfolded. Coverage from news wire services has seen the case run in national papers from The Daily Telegraph in London and The Scotsman, to The New York Times, The New York Post, The Washington Times and The Boston Globe in the US. But apart from the prosecutor's opening, the first day of the defence and some evidence, much of this international interest has not been reflected in the highly competitive Chinese-language press. Reporters from many of the city's top dailies said they were 'frustrated' at the lack of interest shown in their work by their editors. Associate professor of criminal law at the University of Hong Kong, Simon Young Ngai-man, said cultural as well as language barriers were the main reasons the trial had not attracted such a high level of interest among the Chinese community. However, those same reasons were the prime draw for expatriates in Hong Kong. The trial featured one of Hong Kong's best prosecutors facing one of its best defence lawyers, in English, without the hindrance of translations. 'We have a female who is accused of murdering her husband, a leading member of Hong Kong's financial community,' Mr Young said. 'They are members of the elite, upper crust of the expat society in Hong Kong. These are people who do not normally display any form of criminality - at least not in public, anyway. 'The community feels they are getting a glimpse inside the private world of two people, finding out intimate details of their lives, even down to what websites they surfed.' The people who regularly made their way to the packed public gallery formed an eclectic group. Among them were retirees, those with an 'unnatural fascination with death', while some claimed to be writing a novel or magazine piece on the case. They are unlikely to be the only ones who will try. What many spectators shared was a touch of embarrassment that their interest in the trial prompted them to sit through days of evidence over the past two months. 'Perhaps one of the main reasons I'm here is because I have an interest in murder,' said one local observer, who asked that his name not be published. 'And there has never been a trial like this in Hong Kong, at least not in my lifetime. It's like it has been scripted for a movie, but the story is one you wouldn't believe.' Another spectator, who also wanted anonymity, said her interest lay in the uniqueness of the case. Even when she left Hong Kong for her native India, she closely monitored the daily revelations on the internet. 'There has never been a trial like this involving the expat community, at least not in the past 20 years,' she said. But although she watched the trial closely, she admitted that she sometimes felt sorry for the families involved, and wished the court had been closed from public view. Nevertheless, it did not stop her returning to the court controlled by Mr Justice Michael Lunn to witness the final outcome.