Farmer faces murder retrial

Tim Edmunds and Tim ClarkeAlbany Advertiser
The crash scene at Borden in 2008.
Camera IconThe crash scene at Borden in 2008. Credit: WA Police

A Borden farmer charged over the alleged murder of his wife 11 years ago will face a retrial next year.

Gregory Paul Johnston will stand trial again in March after a Supreme Court jury failed to reach a verdict in the murder trial after four days of deliberation in April.

Mr Johnston spent four weeks defending himself against allegations he staged a car crash on their Great Southern property in late 2008, before setting the car on fire and watching his wife Susi Elizabeth Johnston burn to death.

Prosecutors said Mr Johnston was motivated by a new love, and his old farm, to kill his wife and then claim it was an accident — before changing his story, when police began reinvestigating, to say his wife killed herself.

But Mr Johnston vigorously denied the murder charge, with his lawyers asking why a man liked by all, and with no history of violence, could turn into a cold-hearted killer.

Mrs Johnston, 56, died when the couple’s Ford, driven by her husband, left a track and hit a tree, before flames engulfed the vehicle with the mother still inside.

Mr Johnston escaped the blaze unscathed, without even smoke or soot staining his clothes.

The retrial was confirmed at a status conference on April 18.

It has been set down for four weeks and will run between March 3-30 in 2020.

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