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Woman Sentenced To Death

Mrs. Yvonne Gladys Fletcher, 30, collapsed in the dock last night when she was sentenced to death for the murder of her first husband, Desmond George But- her, 30, by administer- ing thallium poison.

A Central Criminal Court   jury had returned a verdict of guilty after an absence of

four hours.

Mrs. Fletcher, who wore a grey costume, blue jumper, and white hat, seemed self-composed when the jury returned to court.

She showed no emotion when the foreman announ- ced the verdict.

Asked if she had any-

thing to say before the Court passed sentence, she

said, "No, your Honor." in a clear voice.

Mr. Justice Kinsella said: "You have had a fair trial and a patient and careful consideration of the evi- dence by the jury.

"If the conviction had been in respect of your sec- ond husband, possibly some palliation of your crime   might have been found, for the evidence showed you suffered greatly at his hands. In respect of your first hus- band, there is no evidence at all of that nature.

"The crime of murder is a terrible one, and when the killing is by means of an in- sidious poison, secretly ad- ministered within the family circle to an unsuspecting victim, which destroyed him mentally and physically, while permitting him to

linger for months in wretched agony, then the crime is a horrible one."

Mrs. Fletcher constantly opened and closed her eyes as the Judge addressed her.

When he passed the death sentence, she collapsed in the dock, dropping a prayer- book which she had carried during the seven-day trial.

Three policewomen and a constable rushed to her aid. They gave her a glass of


Just before Mrs. Fletcher reached the door leading to the cells, she burst into a fit of weeping.


Mr. Justice Kinsella referred to a recommenda- tion from the jury that, in view of the scientific evi-

dence, the sale of thallium poison in any form to the public should be prohibited.

He said he would pass on the recommendation to the appropriate authority.

Mrs. Fletcher has two small children by her first marriage.

A gaol authority said that Mrs. Fletcher would be placed in an observation cell at Long Bay until the sentence was carried out or commuted to a term of imprisonment.

He said that, if the sentence   was commuted to imprison- ment for life, Mrs. Fletcher would be able to petition for release after serving about 20


Mrs. Fletcher would remain at Long Bay.

A legal authority said last night that this was the first case known in Australia of a person having been convicted at murder by administering thallium poison. There had been several cases of suicide in which the poison was used.

Counsel's speeches, page   4.

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