ACCUSED murderer Susan Falls sat on the edge of her seat with two hands pressed against her lips as a jury filed in to deliver a not guilty verdict yesterday.
She did not react when the Brisbane Supreme Court jury acquitted her of murdering her husband, Rodney Falls, four years ago but the relief was palpable when the head foreman delivered a not guilty verdict to manslaughter as well.
There was a collective gasp from her daughters, her new partner and family in the public gallery of the courtroom, followed by tears as Mrs Falls turned to look at them.
After hearing three weeks of evidence, six men and six women began deliberations at 3.05pm yesterday and had reached a verdict by 4.30pm.
Mrs Falls had confessed to lacing curried prawns with sleeping tablets, waiting until her husband had fallen asleep and then shooting him in the head twice.
She engaged three men to help her move her husband’s body, which was dumped in the Mapleton State Forest.
Mrs Falls told the court she was subjected to brutal emotional and physical abuse in the 24 years she was with Mr Falls.
She testified she believed the only option was to kill him or harm would come to her or her four children.
“I thought he’d eventually paralyse me, I’d lose an eye or just be killed,” she had told the jury.
Mrs Falls said, in the month before she killed her husband, he threatened to kill one of their children to punish her parents for wanting to visit.
She said he made her walk around a cemetery looking at children’s headstones, wrote the names on a piece of paper and made her choose one like a “lottery”, and would taunt her by saying “tick, tock” daily as the deadline for the child’s death loomed.
To acquit Mrs Falls of murder and manslaughter, Justice Peter Applegarth told the jury they must believe Mrs Falls had “a reasonable belief” that the risk of death or serious injury to her or her children was real.
Co-accused Christopher Anthony Cumming-Creed, 25, was clutching an over-sized gold cross as he waited for the jury.
His prayers were answered as he and the two other men on trial for accessory to Mr Falls’ murder – Bradley James Coupe, 30, and Anthony James Hoare, 42 – were also acquitted.
Mr Falls’ sister Kim Page immediately stormed out of the courtroom, shouting expletives.
She was followed by her mother and another man, who slammed the door on his way out.
Mrs Falls hugged her family and each of the three men who helped her after his death.
She told media she was “relieved” as she left the court and thanked everyone for their support.
Mr Cumming-Creed said it had been a stressful three weeks but he was happy with the result.
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