SHE has been living with a sinister secret for 17 months, prosecutors allege — one that escaped detection at first, only to unravel thanks to toxicology results.
On Monday, SA Police made their move against Wendie Dent, arresting her for allegedly fatally poisoning the food and drink of her de facto, David Lawrence.
In an unexpected twist, Dent did not face the Adelaide Magistrates Court as is the ordinary course following a murder arrest.
Though Dent was just a few hundred metres from the dock, under guard in the City Watch House, her case file was not prepared in time to beat the court’s 4pm deadline.
As a result, she will face court on Tuesday — when it is expected she will apply for bail, and the public will likely learn the full details of the alleged murder for the first time.
Dent, 59, of Dapto, NSW, was arrested Monday morning by detectives as she stepped off a plane at Adelaide Airport.
His brother, Phillip Lawrence issued a statement saying: “Our family and all of David’s close friends are relieved at today’s events. However, nothing can bring our brother and friend back.”
A popular and well-known Morphett Vale local, Mr Lawrence was found dead at his Godfrey Court home on December 3, 2015, two days after his 63rd birthday. He had been in a relationship with Ms Dent for 18 months and was planning to marry her.
At the time, neighbours said they believed Mr Lawrence had “died in his sleep”, describing him as a “good bloke” who liked fishing, cars and holidays.
Although Mr Lawrence had no pre-existing medical conditions, he had become extremely unwell several days before he died.
He ceased all contact with the outside world and received calls on his mobile phone, including on his birthday, that went unanswered.
Neighbours said Mr Lawrence’s relationship with Dent was “loving” and that they had been expected to tie the knot “in a few months”.
In the wake of Mr Lawrence’s death, Dent became embroiled in a Supreme Court legal dispute, with his three brothers and two sisters, over his estate.
It subsequently emerged that Mr Lawrence’s will had been changed in the weeks prior to his death, affecting the fate of his substantial estate.
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The contents of the court file in that matter are the subject of suppression orders.
Initially, Mr Lawrence’s death was not considered to be suspicious — but that changed due to the results of a toxicology report late last year.
The report prompted SA detectives, with the help of NSW Police, to raid Dent’s home in February.
Details of the toxicology analysis became public a month later, when police revealed it had found lethal levels of opiates in his system.
At the time, Detective Superintendent Des Bray said Mr Lawrence also tested positive for other medications, which had not been prescribed to him.
He said Mr Lawrence’s drink and “possibly food” were laced with lethal medications in the days leading up to his death.
Dep Supt Bray said the estate was “big enough to consider killing someone over”.
“Mr Lawrence was a well-known and popular member of the community, who had lived at the same address for more than 30 years,” he said.
“We believe a person very close to David deliberately poisoned him with the intention on killing him.”
He said police were unable to establish a precise time-frame when that happened “but certainly the last dose would have been given very proximate to his death”.
Det Supt Bray said Mr Lawrence’s siblings were not considered to be persons of interest in police inquiries.
Last month, Dent returned to the Morphett Vale home but did not gain access because the locks had been changed.
She is expected to face Adelaide Magistrates Court after 10am on Tuesday.