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Chip shop owner cleared of murdering wife with boiling oil

Mavis Bran

Trial heard how Geoff Bran, 71 had carried on serving customers after incident

A chip shop owner was today cleared of murdering his wife with scalding oil - after telling how she accidentally poured it over herself.

Mavis Bran, who was 69, had screamed "Please help me" down the phone to a friend minutes after working alongside husband Geoffrey Bran, 71, in their shop.

Geoff Bran carried on serving customers as his wife cried out for help after being doused with 160C oil.

Mavis died six days after the horrific attack when she suffered burns to 46 per cent of her body.

Bran denied hurling the oil over his wife at their village chip shop - claiming she had accidentally tipped the fryer over herself.

Giving evidence at the trial, Bran said:

"I turned around and saw her flying to the floor.

"I could see the fat fryer moving forward on the table. Instantly the legs fell of the edge and the weight of the oil tipped the whole thing forwards.

"The oil must have moved things fast and it was like a waterfall and landed on her chest."

When asked why he didn't follow his wife to the house, Bran said he was in "a different world" and stayed to clean up.

Bran said:

"At the corner of my eye I could see the fat fryer moving as if it was in slow motion.

"The front legs slipped off the table, instantly the legs fell off the edge and the weight of the oil tipped the whole thing forward, the whole two tubs came out in one whoosh.

"One of the legs got to the edge and the weight of the oil must have moved things fast and it was like a waterfall and it landed on her chest."

He said he moved his wife and sat her up to take off her oil soaked clothes after the accident.

He added: "I didn't know if I was doing the right thing to be honest.

"I just grabbed the bottom of her jumper and pulled it over her head."

He told her to run to their house and ask their lodger Gareth to call an ambulance.

He agreed that it was “callous to the point of inhumanity" not to check on his wife as he he carried on serving.

Swansea Crown Court heard Mavis had started drinking red wine in the morning and was over the drink-drive limit at the time of the tragic accident just before 1pm.

Mavis had told a friend and a paramedic that her husband was to blame before she passed away.

Friend Caroline Morgan told the jury: "She was screaming down the phone begging for help and crying.

"She was screaming: 'Help me, help me, emergency, emergency! Geoff has thrown boiling oil over me.  Help me, help me! Get here now - I'm burnt to hell'."

A court heard Mavis also told paramedic Allison Williams that her husband had attacked her.

Ms Williams said: “I asked her if she could explain what had actually happened that day.

"At that point she said: "My husband threw hot fat over me.” She just stated they’d had an argument.”

Bran and Mavis had come out of retirement to start their roadside cafe.

The couple had been married for more than 30 years but had no children - although Bran had three children from a prior relationship.

Swansea Crown Court heard the couple would often argue about "finances" and that Mavis would drink two bottles of wine a day.

Mr Lewis said Mavis died at Morriston Hospital, Swansea, from complications arising from "widespread and severe hot oil burns" at
The Chipoteria at Hermon, Carmarthenshire.

Despite this, the couple's lodger Gareth Davies said Mavis was in a "happy mood" on the morning of the tragedy.

But at lunchtime he heard her shout: "I’ve been burnt" and "I’ve had boiling hot fat all over me".

Mr Davies said: "She was, naked from the waist up. She was a bright red crimson all over her torso."

"She didn't seem to be in pain. She was lucid. She was standing there next to me.

"I offered to call her an ambulance and she said 'no, categorically no'."

Despite his wife's distress, Bran didn't check on her once - and stayed in the chip shop to serve customers.

He denied attacking her and told customers in the shop that there had been "a little accident".

Bran admitted that the couple often argued and had fallen out that day over the cleanliness of the fryers and burnt fish.

Bran, of Hermon, denied murder and manslaughter. He was cleared by a jury at Swansea Crown Court after five hours - and walked free from court.

Her family said: “We as a family would like to say a big thank you to everyone for all the support we have received after the loss of our beautiful, loving sister Mavis, who lost her life in such a tragic way doing the job she loved.  She was the matriarch of the family and is missed every day.

"We would also like to thank Dyfed Powys Police for their help and support during this difficult time.

"Now that the court case is over and we finally have closure, we can rebuild our lives as a family, remembering Mavis as the fun-loving person that she was.”

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