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Not guilty of murdering husband

Michele Irsigler
Michele Irsigler

A WOMAN who shot her husband twice, drove his body to a friend's place to be burnt and lied about his disappearance has been found not guilty of murder.

Michele Irsigler walked free yesterday, acquitted of the murder charge against her because of her evidence that she had been the victim of two decades of abuse.

During a fortnight-long trial in Brisbane Supreme Court, Ms Irsigler told of the events before she killed her husband, Jonathan Watkins, in their Montville home on July 25, 2001.

She said she had been kept hostage in the family home for three days before she shot him as he attacked her.

A jury returned a not guilty verdict for charges of murder and manslaughter against Ms Irsigler.

She was found guilty of interfering with a corpse and sentenced to a wholly suspended one-year jail term.

Two men accused of being accessories to the murder, Russell Graham Pilkington and her current partner Jason Scott Bundesen, also were found guilty of interfering with a corpse.

The pair received the same sentence and were found not guilty of all other charges.

Mr Pilkington was helping Ms Irsigler collect her belongings from the house when Mr Watkins arrived home and started attacking his wife.

She managed to escape, found a gun she had borrowed from a friend and shot Mr Watkins twice.

They drove his body to Mr Bundesen's property, where he took it to a back paddock, doused it in diesel and burnt it for several days.

Days later, Ms Irsigler told police her husband had stormed off, saying he would never be seen again.

He was listed as a missing person for many years until Mr Pilkington made a drunk confession to the incident years later.

No trace of Mr Watkins was ever found.

Ms Irsigler told police she never wanted to kill her husband but said she had the gun to scare him.

"Why (did I shoot him)? Eighteen years of being bumped around, being threatened," she said.

"I wanted my life back.

"I wanted to get up in the morning and not be beaten up during the day ... to have a normal life.

"I wanted a normal life for my children."

Topics:  court, murder


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