Nearly 47 years after he killed his wife and buried her body in the backyard of their home, a jury has found Geoffrey Adams not guilty of her murder.
Nearly 47 years after he killed his wife and buried her body in the backyard of their home, a jury has found Geoffrey Adams not guilty of her murder.

47-year-old domestic violence killing ends in shock verdict

South Australian man Geoffrey Adams has been found not guilty of the 1973 murder of his wife.

Adams had pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Colleen Adams, but insisted he did not intend to kill her when he struck her twice to the head with a metal object in the kitchen of their home at Maitland, on the Yorke Peninsula, west of Adelaide.

Nearly 47 years after she disappeared, a jury of three men and eight women on Friday returned their unanimous verdict after just over four hours of deliberation.

Adams stood and showed little emotion as the verdict was handed down.

The verdict means he will qualify for a discount of up to 40 per cent off his eventual sentence, because of his early offer to plead guilty to the lesser charge.

In a trial lasting seven days, jurors heard the couple had a volatile relationship and Mrs Adams withdrew the money from her savings account in the lead-up to her death.

Geoffrey Adams has been found not guilty of the murder of his wife Colleen Adams in 1973. Picture: Nine News
Geoffrey Adams has been found not guilty of the murder of his wife Colleen Adams in 1973. Picture: Nine News

 

On the night he killed her, Adams returned home from a meeting and an argument erupted.

He admitted striking her twice to the head with a metal object, before leaving her body on the kitchen floor overnight.

Early the next morning, he dug a hole in the backyard of the family home, carried his wife's body outside and buried her.

For the next 45 years, Adams told police and family members, including the couple's two daughters, Mrs Adams had post-natal depression and could not cope with family life.

He said she told her children "goodbye, you little bastards", packed a suitcase and walked out on the family.

Over the decades, Adams was interviewed by police and the media but maintained the lie until September 2018.

Another dig was undertaken in the backyard at Maitland, a revealing newspaper article was published and Adams was again pressed by police.

"I just struck her a bit hard," he eventually told Detective Sergeant Michael Newbury during a video interview played to the jury.

Adams, who was living in Wallaroo, was then driven by police to the backyard of the former family home and emotionally pointed out the location of his wife's body.

Police at the Maitland property where they dug for the remains of Colleen Adams who disappeared in 1973. Picture: Naomi Jellicoe
Police at the Maitland property where they dug for the remains of Colleen Adams who disappeared in 1973. Picture: Naomi Jellicoe

 

However, he insisted he never intended to kill Mrs Adams and eventually pleaded guilty only to her manslaughter.

His Supreme Court murder trial, before Justice David Peek, commenced nearly two years after his confession.

At the conclusion of evidence earlier this week, defence counsel Bill Boucaut QC told jurors Adams actions in the aftermath of his wife's death proved he did not intend to kill her.

"He's hardly likely, if he has murder on his mind, to go and dig a grave out in the backyard for his wife and the neighbours to see and then come and kill his wife and bury her in that," he said.

Colleen Adams disappeared from her home at Maitland, on the Yorke Peninsula, west of Adelaide, in November 1973.
Colleen Adams disappeared from her home at Maitland, on the Yorke Peninsula, west of Adelaide, in November 1973.

"That's just a ridiculous thought."

Mr Boucaut said the fact that Adams repeatedly lied did not mean he was guilty of murder.

"The telling of lies doesn't, of itself, mean a great deal even though the lies might be despicable," he said.

Adams will return to court for sentencing submissions in September.

Originally published as Husband not guilty of 1973 cold case murder



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