Daughter testifies against murder case RAF officer

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The Independent Online
The wife of a senior RAF officer suspected her husband was having an affair just weeks before he allegedly murdered her, their daughter told a jury yesterday. Kim Sengupta describes the dramatic scene at Norwich Crown Court as she gave evidence for the prosecution.

Vanessa Vujcich did not look once at her father, Sqn Ldr Nicholas Tucker, sitting 10 feet away in the dock as she gave evidence against him for 45 minutes. He stared at her intently as she spoke about how her mother was upset after fearing he was having an affair while serving as a UN observer in Bosnia. At the end of his daughter's testimony he took off his glasses and wiped away tears.

A few weeks after expressing her suspicion of infidelity, Carol Tucker, 52, was found dead after a car she was travelling in with her husband plunged into a river. Ms Vujcich told the court that the squadron leader had later confessed to her of his liaison with a 21-year-old Serbian interpreter.

The prosecution claims that it was this infatuation for Dijana Dudukovic, which drove the RAF officer to stage an accident at the River Lark, in Suffolk, and murder her.

Ms Vujcich, 22, an air hostess with Britannia Airways now living in New Zealand, told the jury at Norwich Crown Court that her father returned home twice while serving in former Yugoslavia. She said: "My mother spoke to me about how she suspected that he was having an affair. She was thoroughly upset and obviously she was looking for answers".

Ms Vujcich said that following the fatal accident on 21 July l995 there was a series of telephone calls to the Tucker home in Honington, Suffolk. There were two within half an hour from a woman whose voice she did not recognise. Later she heard him mention Zurich in another call.

At first Sqn Ldr Tucker claimed it was to do with a family he was helping in Bosnia. But after being interviewed by the the police he told her about a "fling in Bosnia".

Ms Vujcich said: "I remember that he wanted to tell me about somebody that he met in Bosnia before I found out in another way. It was Dijana, but I cannot remember if he used that name. He said he had a fling with an interpreter in Bosnia. He had also taken her somewhere in England. I remember being quite understanding about it and listening to him." She had stayed in contact with her father and sent him a Father's Day card.

Earlier in the hearing the jury was told by a Royal Marines officer, Lt Timothy Stear, who served as a UN peace-keeper in former Yugoslavia that Ms Dudukovic "used sex to manipulate people" and Sqn Ldr Tucker became her " lapdog". It was alleged he neglected military duties to take her shopping in Zagreb.

Ms Vujcich told the court that her mother was "annoyed" because she had seen photographs of Sqn Ldr Tucker with two interpreters in Bosnia which was being passed around at the RAF base at Honington, Suffolk.

The jury was read a letter from Mrs Tucker to her husband: "I was very upset by the photos of the smoochy parties and the girls. I was hurting so much. Any wife would be.

"I try not to worry and cope with everything, and then I just snap - when I saw all the parties going on and the booze. It probably means nothing to you but it means a lot to me. I worry in case you don't come through it all and step on a mine or get a sniper's bullet."

Ms Vujcich told the court how she was woken by her father at 2am the morning following the crash. He cried as he said her mother had been killed.

Two days later Sqn Ldr Tucker took his daughter to the crash site. She thought the water was not as deep as she had expected. She added that her mother had a phobia about water, but could swim.

Sqn Ldr Tucker, 46, of Honington, Suffolk, denies murder. The case continues.