Ex-wife denies acid attack plot to ruin husband

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The Independent Online
THE ex-wife of a businessman accused of arranging a failed nitric acid attack on her yesterday denied she had anything to do with the incident.

Susan Humphrey, 37, was recalled to give further evidence at Exeter Crown Court in the trial of her former husband, 51-year-old Peter Humphrey.

The prosecution has claimed that Humphrey did not throw the acid, but arranged the attack at his then estranged wife's home because of his obsessive jealousy over the breakdown of his nine-year marriage.

The acid thrower has not been caught.

On that night, Mrs Humphrey's babysitter, 21-year-old Beverley Hammett, was scarred for life when the acid was thrown when she answered the door of Mrs Humphrey's secluded home, called Camelot, in Seaton, Devon.

At the start of his re-examination today, defence counsel Gilbert Gray put to her: "If you want a man removed from your life, you are prepared to be dishonest, aren't you?", to which Mrs Humphrey replied: "No, I am not."

The counsel put to her that if acid was thrown at the front door Mr Humphrey - whose household products manufacturing business dealt in acid - would be in deep trouble.

Mrs Humphrey replied: "If acid was thrown at anybody's front door and anybody dealt in acid would not anybody automatically be in trouble?"

But Mr Gray suggested: "You knew that man would be put in the frame?" She replied: "I refuse to answer that. I think it is a ridiculous question."

Mrs Humphrey, who wept in the witness box at some stages of her evidence, said: "You are trying to put doubt in the jury's mind," and added: "I have told the truth totally."

Humphrey from Axminster, Devon, has pleaded not guilty to aiding and abetting a person or persons unknown to cause grievous bodily harm with intent to Mrs Humphrey on July 10, 1996.

Mr Gray put to Mrs Humphrey: "Did you have anything to do with the throwing of acid at Camelot?" - to which she replied: "I had nothing to do with the throwing of any acid."

"Have you spoken to anybody, ever had any friends to help you?" asked counsel - "Never," she replied.

"You do not know of anybody else who might have had anything to do with it?" asked counsel - "I would not know anyone who would do such a horrendous act," said Mrs Humphreys.

On the night of the incident, the court has heard, Mrs Humphrey had gone to hospital to see her sister, while Humphrey was in a country pub with two women.

Mr Gray put it to Mrs Humphrey that in the past she had made an allegations that her first husband, 49-year-old Peter Culley, had tried to strangle her. She also told Mr Gray she did not remember another incident in which she said Mr Culley tried to strangle her after a row over a radio.

In answer to a question from Judge Graham Cottle, Mr Gray said the purpose of the cross-examination was to show making false allegations was "no novelty" to Mrs Humphrey.

The trial was adjourned until Monday, when the judge will sum up the evidence to the jury.