Hung jury in WA farmer wife murder case

Susi Elizabeth Johnston was found in a burned out car in WA. Picture: AAP Image/ Western Australia Police
Susi Elizabeth Johnston was found in a burned out car in WA. Picture: AAP Image/ Western Australia Police

A JURY has been unable to reach a unanimous verdict in the case of a West Australian farmer accused of murdering his wife of 25 years by crashing her car into a tree then burning her alive in a staged accident.

Gregory Paul Johnston stood trial in the WA Supreme Court accused of killing 56-year-old Susi Elizabeth Johnston at their Borden farm on December 6, 2008.

The jury began deliberating on Tuesday but by Friday afternoon said they could not reach a unanimous verdict, so they were discharged.

Justice Robert Mitchell told family members in the public gallery he understood their disappointment.

He said it would be up to the director of public prosecutions to determine whether a retrial would be pursued.

Mr Johnston was granted bail ahead of a status conference on April 18.

The burned out car which Susi Elizabeth Johnston was found in. Picture: AAP/Supplied

The court heard during the trial that Mr Johnston repeatedly lied to police before he was finally charged a decade later.

Prosecutor Justin Whalley said Mr Johnston was the victim’s sole financial beneficiary and also mistakenly believed she had taken out a life insurance policy days before her death.

Mr Johnston had been unfaithful and days after his wife’s death transferred $15,000 into the bank account of a woman he had met online, then married her nine months later, the court heard.

But defence counsel Linda Black noted the lack of direct evidence in the circumstantial case, including any proof the fire was deliberately lit.

She admitted Mr Johnston cheated on his wife and lied to police, but insisted he was not a killer.

Ms Black also presented a theory that Ms Johnston wanted to kill herself.

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