Convicted murderer Colin Bouwer denied parole, Privy Council appeal likely
By Hamish McNeilly
September 18 2015

Psychiatrist Colin Bouwer

Psychiatrist Colin Bouwer

The psychiatrist who slowly poisoned his wife to death has been denied parole at his first hearing in 15 years.

Colin Bouwer will spend another year in prison before being deported – but not before an appeal against his murder conviction is lodged.

The South African-born psychiatrist was convicted of murder after he slowly poisoned his wife Annette Bouwer, 47, who died at their Dunedin home in January 2000.

Annette Bouwer was poisoned by her husband and died in her Dunedin home in January 2000

Annette Bouwer was poisoned by her husband and died in her Dunedin home in January 2000

He denied murder, claiming her death was suicide. He now claims it was assisted suicide and plans an appeal to the Privy Council.

In November 2001, a jury took less than three hours to find him guilty. He was sentenced In the Christchurch High Court to life imprisonment and has served his non-parole period of 15 years.

Bouwer, 65, appeared before the Parole Board at Rolleston Prison on Friday, September 11.

The parole board’s decision, which is yet to be released, is expected to confirm Bouwer will need to see a psychologist before he appears before the board again in 12 months.

His Dunedin-based lawyer David More questioned why his client, who had been a “model prisoner” and served the required minimum non-parole period without incident, should stay behind bars another year.

“If Corrections wanted him to see a psychologist before he was paroled they have had 15 years to it . . . it is pretty stupid that they should wait until his time is up before they raise it.”
Annette Bouwer was poisoned by her husband and died in her Dunedin home in January 2000.
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Annette Bouwer was poisoned by her husband and died in her Dunedin home in January 2000.

Bouwer committed the crime within two years of being granted a New Zealand residence permit, and was served a deportation order in 2002.

He had opposed that deportation order, “but he has changed his mind”, More said. He planned to live with a cousin in South Africa.

Bouwer’s health had deteriorated while in prison and he now walked with the aid of a stick following knee surgery.

“He has become more reflective, he says he “has had more time to think”.”

Possible Privy Council Appeal

More said Bouwer always considered that his wife had an underlying illness, and she refused to get medical help.

“He now acknowledges he did an extraordinarily stupid thing.”
Defence counsel David More, right, walks with Colin Bouwer to the Dunedin court house.

Defence counsel David More, right, walks with Colin Bouwer to the Dunedin court house.

Bouwer claims he administered his wife drugs so she would go to hospital in order for doctors “to find the underlying illness . . . which never happened”.

His defence at the trial was suicide, not assisted suicide, More said. “And he now says the death was an assisted suicide.”

That was likely to form the basis of an application for leave to appeal to the Privy Council – possibly the last from New Zealand – which would argue that Annette suffered from an underlying illness.
The Bouwer’s home in Dunedin where Annette died in January 2000.

The Bouwer’s home in Dunedin where Annette died in January 2000.

That diagnosis of the rare neurological disease myasthenia gravis was by imminent consultant neurologist Rudy Capildeo, of London, which would form part of the appeal, he said.

Symptoms of the disease include double vision, difficulty swallowing,and paralysis.

The right to appeal from New Zealand-based courts to the United Kingdom-based Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was abolished from January 1, 2004 with the establishment of the Supreme Court.

However, under the Supreme Court Act 2003, certain appeals can continue to be determined by the Privy Council,

Bouwer serving another year in prison would allow time for that appeal, although More confirmed it would still go ahead even when his client was deported.

“I discussed that with him, if he was released then a decision to proceed with that appeal would happen.”

He confirmed Bouwer was also practising Judaism – his mother was Jewish – and wore a skullcap.

It was because his wife was Jewish that Bouwer objected to a post-mortem, maintaining she had to be buried within 48 hours.

Instead her doctor, Dr Andrew Bowers, ordered a post-mortem instead of signing her death certificate.

Annette was later cremated following a Christian service.

Bouwer was arrested in September 15, 2000, following a lengthy police investigation that also including surveillance of his phonecalls.

The case

The court heard how over many weeks Bouwer administered drugs to his wife, seeking to replicate the onset of disease, so her death would seem to be due to illness.

On the night she was in her final coma, he suggested the family go out for a late walk on the beach.

When they returned Annette would have been comatose. However Bouwer slept in a different room and his wife died alone.

During the trial Bouwer was quoted by Brenda Ruddock, his wife’s sister in South Africa, claiming it would be “easy to commit the perfect murder in New Zealand because the police were not equipped to handle complicated cases”.

The prosecution alleged Bouwer had tried to make his wife’s death look like an illness so he could claim life insurance and live with his lover and colleague Anne Walsh.

Walsh maintained Bouwer was innocent and their relationship began after his wife’s death.

The court also heard Bouwer had a history of abusing pethidine, a pain-relief drug.

He had been declared an impaired doctor by South African authorities during the 1980s. His impaired status was revoked in 1992.

In a bizarre coincidence, the court heard Bouwer’s son, who shares his father’s name, was also on trial for the murder of his own wife, in their Johannesburg home.

Deporting criminals

Earlier this week Immigration New Zealand confirmed Bouwer would be deported at the end of his sentence.

“Every case is considered on its merits but it is usual for NZ to deport a foreign national who has served a prison sentence and falls within its remit,” a spokesman said.

The department declined to comment further “on this particular case for privacy reasons”.

Figures supplied by the department reveal 447 people convicted of crimes had been deported from New Zealand since 2010.

That included 48 people for the year ending September 4, 2015.

However, they confirmed for any deportation a risk assessment would be carried out to determine if an escort was required in any particular case and, if so, the number of escorts.