Former air hostess Theresa Dalton is on trial in the Brisbane Supreme Court accused of attempting to procure the murder of her ex-husband Malcolm Stewart in 2010. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled
Former air hostess Theresa Dalton is on trial in the Brisbane Supreme Court accused of attempting to procure the murder of her ex-husband Malcolm Stewart in 2010. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled

Divorce battle marked by ‘hatred and pure venom’, court told

A DEFENCE Barrister in the case of a woman accused of hiring a hitman to kill her ex-husband has told a jury it would have to do "ridiculous mental gymnastics" with the evidence they'd heard in order to convict the woman.

Former air hostess Theresa Dalton is on trial in the Brisbane Supreme Court accused of attempting to procure the murder of her ex-husband Malcolm Stewart in 2010.

Crown prosecutor Michael Lehane told the jury the divorce battle between the pair was like a "raging inferno" filled with "hatred and pure venom" and it was clear the woman had formed a "murderous intent".

Prosecutors allege Dalton convinced her then-boyfriend Anthony Werner to hire his "sleaziest" friend Matthew Neels to kill Stewart in exchange for $40,000.

Malcolm Stewart gave evidence in the trial of his ex-wife Theresa Dalton who is accused of being involved in ordering a hit on him in 2010. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled
Malcolm Stewart gave evidence in the trial of his ex-wife Theresa Dalton who is accused of being involved in ordering a hit on him in 2010. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled


But the court heard Neels took the $20,000 "deposit" for the murder and didn't go through with the alleged plot.

In his closing address, defence barrister Greg McGuire told the jury it would need to be convinced beyond reasonable doubt that Dalton had a hand in the alleged scheme in order to convict.

He said stories provided by Neels and Werner about the "hiring" for the killing did not align, with Neels saying Werner flew to New South Wales and gave him a folder with the would-be victim's information but Werner saying the proposition was made over the phone after a friendly visit weeks before.

"It's completely contradictory," Mr McGuire said.

But prosecutor Mr Lehane said the defence had given the crown case a "backhanded compliment" by working to discredit alleged victim Mr Stewart by bringing up his criminal history during the trial.

He showed the jury Dalton's bank statements showing she withdrew $45,000 cash in the months leading up to the alleged offending, saying she had "bank rolled" the crime.

"There was really no dispute in this case that by this January and February of 2010 the pair's relationship had reached venomous levels," he said.

Theresa Dalton is on trial accused of paying Neels to kill her ex-husband Malcolm Stewart in 2010. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled
Theresa Dalton is on trial accused of paying Neels to kill her ex-husband Malcolm Stewart in 2010. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled


"We had extreme circumstances where there was such pure hatred and real venom and murderous intent was formed by the accused, the intention to procure the murder of Mr Stewart."

Mr Lehane said the ongoing dispute had been repeatedly exacerbated and was akin to "throwing kerosene on an absolute raging inferno".

"You've no doubt heard the saying murder is a crime of passion, well given level of passion here you might think it's well and truly accords with your common sense that the accused would act on that murderous intent that had formed where she just had the degree of cunning required to let Werner do the dirty work, where she could have the clean hands or the gloved hands at one stage when she was delivering the money to Mr Werner," he told the court.

"You have presented before you an abundance of evidence as to the extreme level of hatred and animosity the accused clearly held towards Malcolm Stewart emotions borne out of jealousy, greed, distrust, perhaps repulsion - take your pick but it was there and in such an intensity you can well see how a plan involving murderous intent and a lust for revenge was born.

"People divorce and separate, that's a fact of life in today's society, it's a regular fact of life but you don't seek to put an end to someone's life because of it."

The trial continues.