'One crazy minute': How Winchester widow found her slain husband

'One crazy minute': How Winchester widow found her slain husband

Colin Winchester's widow thought "for one crazy minute" that her husband was joking when she found him slumped in the driver's seat of his car, a jury heard on Wednesday.

Widow Gwen Winchester leaves the Coroner's Court in 1992.

Widow Gwen Winchester leaves the Coroner's Court in 1992.Credit:Canberra Times

But when Gwen Winchester shook Canberra's police chief and then grabbed his head and tried to resuscitate him, she felt his blood wet her hand.

Mrs Winchester heard her husband pull into the next door neighbour's driveway about 9.15pm on January 10, 1989, after visiting his brother Ken in Queanbeyan to plan a hunting trip to Bourke.

She heard two "sharp cracks", and assumed it was neighbourhood children mucking around with stones.


But five minutes passed, and her husband had not climbed the stairs to their front door, so she opened it to investigate.

She soon found the Ford Falcon sedan's interior light on and her husband sitting in the driver's seat.

"For one crazy minute I thought he was having a joke, and I rushed over and gave him a shake," Mrs Winchester told a jury in a trial over her husband's alleged murder in 1995.

Colin  Winchester.

Colin Winchester.Credit:Fairfax

She ran back inside to call an ambulance. She thought he had had a heart attack, so when she returned to the car she grabbed his head and began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

But she felt wetness, and saw the blood. There was a packet of bullets in his lap, and she threw them away.

"For one crazy minute I thought he must have committed suicide," she said.

She rang triple-zero again and called for police to attend.

Mrs Winchester said she had realised Mr Winchester was dead and waited for paramedics and police.

"I just cuddled him."

Mrs Winchester has died in the years since the trial, but her account of the night her husband was shot was heard in the ACT Supreme Court via numerous police statements, evidence given at an inquest into his death and evidence given at David Harold Eastman's first trial for the alleged murder.

Mr Eastman, 72, is on trial for a second time for Mr Winchester's murder. He has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors allege it was the former Treasury official who put two bullets in Mr Winchester's head after he had pulled into his neighbour's Deakin driveway the night of January 10, 1989.

Mrs Winchester had intended to go with her husband that night to visit Ken, but changed her mind at the last minute, the court heard.

While home alone, she heard a knock on the door. She peered through the frosted glass at a man, and then went to a bedroom window to look at him more clearly.

He knocked again and then left, she told police.

She thought he was maybe a salesman, she was home alone, and couldn't be bothered opening the door.

Later, police arranged for a man who had been selling vacuum cleaners in the area that night to recreate his movements that day, and go to knock on Mrs Winchester's door.

But Mrs Winchester told police he was definitely not the same man who had knocked on the door around 8pm the night of January 10.

That man was medium height, and looked to be in his early 30s. He was wearing a fawn coloured light jacket.

"He probably stood out because of the fact he was wearing non-descript clothes," she said.


Later, police showed the widow a photoboard of images, including one of Mr Eastman, and asked if she could identify the man who had knocked at the door.

She could not, but selected the image of a random person photographed in Civic who looked the most similar.

The court heard the photoboard could not be found.

The trial continues.

Alexandra Back is a reporter with The Canberra Times

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