Woman jailed for murdering her husband with poisoned curry

A woman known as "The Black Widow" was jailed for life yesterday for poisoning her second husband with a curry laced with drugs.

It was the second time in three years that Dena Thompson, 43, had been prosecuted for attacking one of her spouses. In 2000, she was freed after a jury found her not guilty of trying to kill Richard Thompson, her third husband, during a bondage sex session.

But yesterday an Old Bailey jury convicted her of killing her second husband, Julian Webb, at the home they shared in Yapton, West Sussex, on his 31st birthday in June 1994. It was a victory for his mother Rosemary Webb, a teacher who had always insisted that he did not take his own life as Thompson had claimed. As part of the investigation, his body was exhumed fortoxicology tests. Michael Birnbaum QC, for the prosecution, had said Mr Webb, a sales executive, was a happy, fitness fanatic who rarely took medication.

But for the last week of his life, he was not seen as Thompson told telephone callers he was ill or depressed. She handed paramedics empty bottles which had once contained aspirin and the anti-depressant Dothiepin after she said she found him dead in bed.

But the court heard she was asking his employers within hours to ask about money.

Mr Birnbaum said: "Dothiepin is a drug with a bitter taste and it would be hard to administer it to someone unless it was disguised. She may have disguised the taste with spicy food such as curry."