Murderpedia

 

 

Juan Ignacio Blanco  

 

  MALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

  FEMALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

 

 

 
   

Murderpedia has thousands of hours of work behind it. To keep creating new content, we kindly appreciate any donation you can give to help the Murderpedia project stay alive. We have many
plans and enthusiasm to keep expanding and making Murderpedia a better site, but we really
need your help for this. Thank you very much in advance.

   

 

 

Susan BARBER

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


A.K.A.: "The Paraquat Poisoner"
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Poisoner
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: June 27, 1981
Date of arrest: April 5, 1982
Date of birth: 1953
Victim profile: Her husband Michael Barber, 35
Method of murder: Poisoning (paraquat)
Location: Westcliffe-on-Sea, Essex, England, United Kingdom
Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment in December 1982
 
 

Susan Barber was married in 1970. Her husband Michael was a 24-year-old unskilled worker and his bride, Susan, was 17-years-old and already had a daughter from a previous relationship, although Michael thought the six-month-old daughter was his. They lived in a pre-war terraced house in Osborne Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex.

Michael had been in trouble with the police in the past for car-theft and traffic offences and in 1972 he was again in trouble, this time for indecently assaulting his six-year-old niece.

By 1980 the Barbers family had grown to three children but far from being content Susan had been living a lie almost since the day she was married. She had been involved with 15-year-old Richard Collins, who lived three doors away since a few weeks after the marriage. When Michael went off at 5am, to his job as a packer at a local cigarette factory, Richard would wait for him to go and then go around and get into bed with Susan while the bed was still warm.

On Saturday 31 March 1981 Michael left home at 4 am to go on a fishing trip. He was going with some friends in the Thames estuary. Conditions were bad that day and due to a high wind the trip was cancelled. Michael returned home and found his place in bed, and his wife, being kept warm for him by Richard. Michael turned violent and hit them both.

The following Tuesday found them at their local doctor's surgery where Susan wanted treatment for a bruise on her ear where Michael had hit her.

The doctor offered to help resolve their marital difficulties and Susan expressed a willingness to patch things up. This didn't include cutting young Richard out her life though and she stayed in touch secretly by letter.

On Thursday 4 June 1981, Michael complained of a severe headache. The next day the headache was still present but now was accompanied by stomach pains and nausea. By Saturday he was feeling so ill that he called a doctor, who put him on a course of antibiotics. By Monday Michael had breathing difficulties and was admitted to Southend General Hospital where he was placed in intensive care. On Wednesday 17 June he was transferred to Hammersmith Hospital with a severe kidney condition.

The doctors were puzzled by Michael's deterioration and, when no specific infection could be identified, the question of paraquat poisoning was raised. Instructions were given for blood and urine samples to be taken and sent to the National Poisons Reference Centre for analysis. Due to a mix up it was believed that this had been done and that a negative result had been received back.

Michael Barber died on 27 June. A post-mortem was carried out by Professor David Evans and he was informed that tests had disproved the paraquat poisoning theory. Major organs were preserved and, although both pathologists suspected paraquat poisoning, judgement was reserved until histology slides became available.

Michael Barber was cremated at Southend on July 3. That very same night Richard moved in with Susan. Michael's employers agreed that she should have a 15,000 death benefit plus 3;300 per annum for each child and she received these in October.

By now Susan was having the time of her life. Richard's place had been taken by another live-in lover and Susan had purchased a CB radio and used the call-sign 'Nympho'. She soon became the centre of a regular orgy of drink and sex. What she didn't know was that the net was slowly tightening.

In September Professor Evans had received the histology slides. These indicated that Michael had ingested a toxic substance, probably paraquat. This was in contrast to the earlier results. On investigation it was discovered that Barbers file did not hold the results of the earlier blood analysis. It appeared that it had never actually been carried out. Tissue samples were quickly recovered from the mortuary and sent to ICI, the manufacturers of the paraquat. Serum samples went to the National Poisons Unit. The results came back quickly, both confirming the presence of paraquat.

Nine months after her husband's death Susan Barber was arrested at her home. Richard Collins was arrested the same day.

Their trial at Chelmsford Crown Court began on November 1 1982 with Susan Barber being charged with murder, conspiracy to murder and of administering poison with intent to injure. Collins was charged with conspiracy to murder. Both pleaded not guilty. Susan Barber admitted putting the poison on her husband's food but maintained that she didn't want to kill him, she just wanted to make him ill so that she could get away without him coming after her. They were both found guilty. Susan Barber was sentenced to life imprisonment and Richard Collins to two years'.

GreggManning.scstamps.co.uk

 
 

Poisoned Pie in Essex

Steak and kidney pie laced with weed-killer is a deadly recipe

By David Cocksedge - ObserverGroup.net

MURDER BY POISON is fairly common throughout the history of crime. But after several such murderers were convicted and hanged, a strict control of poisons was imposed in Britain in the 1920's. But this insidious and painful method of murder surfaced again in one famous case in 1982. The venue was the town of Westcliffe-on-Sea in Essex, a quiet suburb of Southend on the southeastern coast of England.

Michael and Susan Barber moved into 29 Osborne Road shortly after their marriage in 1970, when she already had a six months old daughter. They had two more children in spite of many quarrels but the marriage survived even though Susan left her husband on two occasions. Michael Barber was captain of a local pub darts team and one his players was one Richard Collins, a young man who lived with his wife only three doors away from the Barbers. Collins was considered a little na?ve by most but was a popular character around town and was particularly well liked by Mrs Christine Barber.

By 1981, their friendship had developed so well that Mrs Barber and Collins had a neat arrangement. After Michael Barber went to off work at a nearby cigarette factory at 5am, Collins would call at the house and hop into bed with Christine for a couple of hours before he also had to get to work. The adulterous couple also met for extra-marital sex on other occasions without Michael Barber being aware of what was going on.

Then on Saturday 23 May 1981 their seedy affair was discovered. Michael and a friend had left at 4am to go fishing in the Thames estuary and, as they drove away, Susan let her lover into the house. There was a strong wind along the river that morning, which cancelled out the fishing trip. Michael returned to the house just after 5am to find a terrified Richard Collins naked in the bedroom, trying desperately to pull on some clothes. In the matrimonial bed was Susan, also naked. It was a scene straight from a Whitehall farce. Michael Barber however did not see the funny side of it. He reacted physically, punching Collins in the mouth. He then struck his wife hard on the right ear with the side of his right hand. Collins fled and stayed away from Osborne Road for two weeks, living with his brother in Southend.

The blow to Susan's ear caused painful bruising, requiring medical attention. She and Michael seemed at first to have patched up their personal problems but within days were not even on speaking terms. The atmosphere in the house became increasingly tense, though they remained living together and communicating through their children.

On 4 June, Michael had a severe headache whilst at work. He was given tablets to combat the pain by a physician at the factory clinic. Two days later he developed severe stomach pains and was violently sick. His wife called the doctor who prescribed an antibiotic and a linctus, but his condition continued to deteriorate. Michael was then dispatched to Southend General Hospital by ambulance.

Michael Barber grew progressively worse and within three more days was moved into intensive care, placed on a ventilator and sedated. Tests suggested that he was suffering from Goodpastures Syndrome, a rare disease, and on 17 June he was moved to Hammersmith Hospital in west London where specialist treatment is available for kidney ailments. In spite of the increased medical care, however, he remained critically ill.

Susan had been visiting her husband at Southend Hospital and when she was informed that he was dangerously ill with a low chance of survival, she took the news quite calmly. Meanwhile doctors at Hammersmith were unable to diagnose Michael's illness until the question of paraquat poisoning was raised by the registrar in respiratory medicine. The consultant physician gave instructions that blood and urine samples were to be sent to the national Poisons Reference Centre at New Cross Hospital in south London for analysis. But due to an unfortunate administrative error, the samples were not in fact sent to New Cross. When the doctor concerned made a follow-up enquiry, he was fobbed off by hospital staff suddenly keen to cover their mistake. He was told that the tests had been negative.

Michael Barber died on 27 June 1981, and his wife was telephoned with the news. The death certificate gave the cause of death as cardiac arrest, renal (kidney) failure and bilateral pneumonia. A post-mortem examination was fixed for the following Tuesday. Professor David Evans supervised the post-mortem, which was carried out by Dr Peter O'Brien. The major organs were removed and, after samples had been taken for special examination, the organs were placed in a labelled bucket, filled with formalin, a preserving fluid. This was placed in the ante-room of the mortuary. No firm conclusions were reached; though the pathologists still felt that the findings suggested paraquat poisoning.

The body of Michael Barber was cremated at Southend Crematorium on 3 July 1981. Richard Collins attended the ceremony with Mrs Barber and he was seen crying when the mourners went back to Osborne Road where Susan served food and drinks. Abandoning his own wife, Collins moved in to live with her that night. They were together for six weeks until Susan met another man at their regular 'boozer' (public house) who soon replaced Collins in her affections. The new lover moved in, and Richard was ordered out.

Meanwhile at Hammersmith Hospital doctors examined the histology slides of the organ samples taken from Michael Barber's corpse. They concluded from these microscopic findings that the dead man had ingested toxin, most probably paraquat. It was then decided to hold a clinical conference into the whole history of the case.

In October 1981 Susan Barber reaped the financial benefits of her husband's death. She received 15,000 in death benefit plus a refund of pension contributions for each of her three children. This enabled her to expand her social life, and soon another regular at the pub moved in with her at Osborne Road. When Susan told her latest paramour that Richard Collins owed her money, the man decided to act as a debt collector for her. Following an angry exchange, the man brutally assaulted Collins and was later arrested, tried and given a custodial sentence for the crime.

Susan meantime bought a CB radio and became well known on the local airwaves. She had a somewhat warped sense of fidelity, and soon met another man, known to the police for drug offences and 'black magic' rituals. Besides drinking parties, there were now 'blue' video shows held at the Barber house where her new lover also took up residence.

Towards the end of January 1982, doctors and experts at Hammersmith Hospital had concluded their clinical examination in the Barber case. They noted that no examination had been carried out by the National Poisons Unit because the samples had never been sent there as instructed. Samples of tissue from the major organs, still lying in the bucket in the mortuary eight months later were now sent to ICI Ltd, the makers of paraquat.

The results were conclusive: paraquat was found in both the serum and the tissue. On 15 February 1982 a consultant at the Royal Post Graduate Medical School forwarded a letter to the Southend Coroner and the local police informing them that Michael Barber had died painfully from a deadly poison.

Detective Chief Inspector John Clarion of the Essex Police now took charge of the case. He was faced with some difficulties because of the delays and errors that had been made. The whole history of Michael Barber's illness had to be researched and everyone concerned - doctors, nurses, analysts, laboratory technicians and porters - had to be interviewed and all the scientific tests repeated. Professor James Cameron then looked at all the evidence and made a forensic judgement of the histology samples. He agreed with the conclusions of all previous experts. This was a clear case of murder.

Meantime, the police were gathering a mass of damming evidence against Christine Barber. Richard Collins quickly admitted that he had been told by Mrs Barber of her intention to murder her husband. She had once even asked him to cut the hydraulic brake lines on Michael's car. He also recalled being present when the two of them returned from Hammersmith Hospital when Susan, having been asked by the medical staff about poison, poured the contents of her husband's medicine bottle down the kitchen sink.

Finally, Susan Barber confessed. She told police that she resented her husband finding her with Collins on the day of the ill-fated fishing trip and resolved then to end their marriage. She admitted that one evening she had put Gromoxone (a weed-killer) into her husband's meal of steak and kidney pie, and then watched him eat it. When nothing happened immediately she gave him another dose, and, soon afterwards, when he had been prescribed medicine for his sore throat, she gave him some more - in the medicine. She had found the Gromoxone in the garden shed, where her husband had stored it after working for a landscape gardening company.

On Monday, 5 April 1982, Susan Barber and Richard Collins were arrested and charged with conspiracy to murder. They appeared in the dock at Chelmsford Crown Court before Mr Justice Woolfe the following November. Both pleaded guilty. Collins, on whose behalf strong evidence of good character was given, was sentenced to two years imprisonment.

Susan Barber maintained that she had had no intention of killing her husband but "just wanted him to suffer as I have suffered." In sentencing her to life imprisonment (ten years) for the murder of Michael Barber, Mr Justice Woolfe said, "I cannot think of a more evil way of disposing of a human being."

(Research: 'Poisoned Pie, the Barber Case' by Tom Tullett, Grafton Books)

 
 

Getting rid of Michael

Susan Barber wasn't going to let her husband ruin her love life

By Max Haynes - Toronto Sun

January 9, 2000

In 1970, Susan and Michael Barber tied the knot in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, England. Pretty Susan was only 17 years old, but had been to the well prior to her marriage, if you get my drift. You see, Susan brought more to the union than good looks and a convivial disposition. She brought a healthy six-month-old daughter and an itsy bitsy secret. Although her new hubby thought the baby was his, Susan knew very well that the child's biological father was a previous boyfriend.

Right off, I should tell you that Michael was not the salt of the earth. Blimey, no. He had previously been in hot water for stealing cars, but for the first 10 years of his marriage he seemed to have settled in nicely. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for Susan. Just a few doors removed from the Barbers' digs on Osborne Rd., there lived virile, 15-year-old Richard Collins.

Susan lured the lad into her bed. Having once tasted of the forbidden fruit, Richard couldn't get enough of the more experienced Susan. Michael, now 37 years old, would toddle off to work each morning at 5 a.m. Quick as a bunny, Richard would be at Susan's side doing all those things boys and girls have been doing since Eve nibbled on that apple.

On March 31, 1981, Michael rose early to go on a fishing trip with a friend. When a storm came up, he and his buddy gave up fishing and returned to their respective homes. Michael walked into his home unexpectedly. You're absolutely correct. He found his wife stark naked in bed with the equally embarrassed Richard.

There was only one thing to do. Michael slugged them both. Richard quickly dressed and hastily excused himself.

Susan swore she would never again stray from the straight and narrow. Her marriage meant more to her than any neighbour. Michael believed her, but he was making a mistake. Susan and Richard continued their affair.

It was in June 1981 that Michael first began to have pains in his tummy. A doctor prescribed some pills. Next day, Michael felt even worse. For nine days he suffered from stomach pains, nausea and a throat that felt as if it was on fire. By June 15, he was having a great deal of trouble breathing. The following day he was rushed by ambulance to Southend General Hospital, where he was admitted to the intensive care unit.

Susan, surprisingly calm at her husband's sudden illness, visited the hospital and was informed that Michael was seriously ill. In time he was transferred to Hammersmith Hospital, where they were better equipped to treat kidney problems. Susan again loyally visited her husband. This time, she was accompanied by Richard, who sensibly remained in the parking lot while Susan paid her respects.

Doctors desperately conducted tests in an attempt to diagnose Michael's illness. When nothing seemed to work, one of them suggested sending samples of Michael's blood and urine to the National Poisons Reference Centre for analysis.

On June 27, Michael died. Death was attributed to cardiac arrest, renal failure and bilateral pneumonia. A post mortem was conducted. Examining officials were told that the tests for poison were negative. Major organs were removed from the body and samples taken for histology slides. The organs were then placed in a bucket of formalin, a preservative. There they reposed in the mortuary anteroom.

Michael's body was cremated. Susan, accompanied by the ever-sympathetic Richard, attended the service. After the brief ceremony, Susan served cucumber sandwiches, delicious chocolate cookies and tea at her home. When the mourners left, Richard moved in.

Life had taken a turn for the better for Susan. As summer faded and fall arrived, with its promise of a happy holiday season just around the corner, she was informed that she was to receive a death benefit amounting to #2,300 pounds from Michael's employer. In October she jettisoned Richard and took another lover.

Footloose and fancy free, our Susan became a regular at the local pub, spending her newfound wealth with the enthusiasm of a drunken sailor. Unknown to her, a nosy professor was studying those histology slides. He concluded that they indicated the presence of an ingested toxin, probably the herbicide paraquat. At the same time, a doctor at Hammersmith Hospital discovered that no samples of blood and urine were ever sent to the National Poisons Reference Centre. The doctor checked further. The poisons centre confirmed that they had never received any samples pertaining to a Michael Barber. There had been a major foul up.

Amazingly, after eight months, Michael's organs were found in the original bucket of formalin in the mortuary anteroom. New samples were immediately dispatched to the poisons centre, as well as to the manufacturer of the herbicide. Both reported that the samples contained poison. The entire matter was turned over to police.

Detectives delved into the herbicide and its uses. They learned that the basic product was available under various trade names. The strongest and most widely used was called Gramoxone. Only farmers and others who could prove a genuine need for the product could purchase it. The manufacturer, Imperial Chemical Industries, informed police that, because of several accidents, they had introduced a stenching agent, which gave off an offensive smell, as well as an emetic which induced vomiting if the poison was inadvertently swallowed.

Police discovered that Michael had once worked for a gardener. Neighbours said he kept a container of Gramoxone in his shed.

On April 5, 1982, nine months after her husband's death, Susan was arrested at her home and taken into custody. Richard was located at his place of employment at a warehouse. He too was arrested.

Both accused gave statements to police. Susan revealed that shortly after Michael struck her, she had taken Gramoxone from the shed and had put some in his dinner, which had consisted of steak-and-kidney pie. She was disappointed when nothing happened. Undaunted, she repeated the dosage. When Michael developed a sore throat, she laced his medicine with more poison. That seemed to do the trick.

Richard agreed that he had known of Susan's intentions, but had not taken an active part in the killing. He revealed that Susan had suggested that he fix the brakes of Michael's car so that he might meet with a fatal accident. He talked Susan out of that scheme, pointing out that it was too risky.

On Nov. 1, 1982, in Chelmsford Court, Susan stood accused of murdering her husband. She admitted placing the poison in his food, but claimed she had only wanted to make him ill. She said, "I got it from the shed from a container. I gave it to him in his dinner mixed with the gravy. I gave him the second lot because the first did not seem to work."

Susan Barber was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. Richard Collins was charged with conspiracy to murder. The presiding judge pointed out that he had not taken part in the planning or the carrying out of the murder. Nevertheless, he was found guilty and sentenced to the relatively light term of two years imprisonment.

 
 

Susan Barber
Richard Collins

The Barbers were married in 1970. Michael was a 24-year-old unskilled worker and his bride, Susan, was seventeen years old and brought with her a child of a previous liaison, though Michael thought the six-month-old daughter was his. They lived in a pre-war terraced house in Osborne Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex. Michael had had previous encounters with the law, for car-theft and traffic offences and in 1972 he was again in trouble, this time for indecently assaulting his six-year-old niece.

By 1980 the Barbers had three children and Susan had a regular lover in the shape of fifteen-year-old Richard Collins, who lived three doors away. When Michael went off at 5am to his job as a packer at a local cigarette factory, Richard would nip round and hop in next to Susan while the bed was still warm.

Saturday 31st March 1981, saw Michael up even earlier. He was going on a fishing trip in the Thames estuary with some friends and he had left home by 4am. Conditions were dangerous in the estuary due to a high wind and the trip was cancelled. Michael returned home and found his place in bed, and his wife, being kept warm for him by Richard. Michael hit them both and Richard got out quickly.

The following Tuesday found the couple at their local doctor's surgery where Susan wanted treatment for a bruise on her ear where Michael had hit her. The doctor offered to help resolve their marital difficulties and Susan expressed a willingness to patch things up. This did not include cutting young Richard out of her life though and she stayed in touch secretly by letter.

On Thursday 4th June 1981, Michael complained at his works' clinic of a severe headache. The next day stomach pains and nausea accompanied the headache. By Saturday he was poorly enough to call a doctor who prescribed an antibiotic. Monday saw Michael with breathing difficulties and he was admitted to Southend General Hospital and placed in intensive care. On Wednesday 17th June he was transferred to Hammersmith Hospital with a severe kidney condition.

The doctors were baffled at Michael's deterioration and, when no specific infection could be identified, the question of paraquat poisoning was raised. Junior staff were instructed to obtain blood and urine samples and to send them to the National Poisons Reference Centre for analysis. It was understood that this had been done and that a negative result had been received back.

Michael Barber died on 27th June. Professor David Evans carried out a post-mortem and both he and his pupil were informed that tests had disproved the paraquat poisoning theory. Major organs were preserved and, although both pathologists suspected paraquat poisoning, judgement was reserved until histology slides became available.

Michael was cremated at Southend on July 3rd. The same night Richard moved in with Susan. Michael's employers agreed that she should have a 15,000 death benefit plus 300 per annum for each child and she received these in October. By now Susan was having the time of her life. Another live-in lover had taken Richard's place and Susan had purchased a CB radio and used the call sign 'Nympho'. She soon became the centre of a regular orgy of drink and sex. What she did not know was that the net was slowly tightening.

In September Professor Evans had received the histology slides. These indicated that Michael had ingested a toxic substance, probably paraquat. He sent his report to the renal unit. This caused some dismay as they had been told that the tests for paraquat had been negative. It was decided to hold a conference in January 1982, to sort out these anomalies. A doctor preparing material for the conference noticed that Barber's file held no notes about the examination of samples. Inquiries made at the National Poisons Reference Centre revealed that the samples had never been sent for analysis. Tissue samples were quickly recovered from the mortuary and sent to ICI, the manufacturers of paraquat. Serum samples went to the National Poisons Unit. The results came back quickly, both confirming the presence of paraquat.

Nine months after her husband's death Susan Barber was arrested at her home. Richard Collins was arrested the same day. Their trial at Chelmsford Crown Court began on 1st November 1982 with Barber being charged with murder, conspiracy to murder and of administering poison with intent to injure. Collins was charged with conspiracy to murder. Both pleaded not guilty. Susan Barber admitted putting the poison on her husband's food but maintained that she did not want to kill him, she just wanted to make him ill so that she could get away without him coming after her. They were both found guilty. Susan Barber was sentenced to life imprisonment and Richard Collins to two years' imprisonment.

Murder-uk.com

 

 
 
 
 
home last updates contact