Australia

‘Very concerned’: Walcha vet reported ram sedative request to police a month before farmer’s death

On the afternoon of August 1, 2017, Natasha Darcy took a sick and elderly cat to the vet, intending to have it euthanised – but decided on a different course of action because her children were too upset. Just hours later, she is accused of using animal sedatives to murder her husband in what she insists was an assisted suicide.

Ms Darcy’s trial for the murder of Walcha grazier Mathew Dunbar in the NSW Supreme Court heard evidence on Thursday from a local veterinarian, who said Ms Darcy made an unusual and concerning request for ram sedative more than a month before Mr Dunbar’s death.

Walcha sheep grazier Mathew Dunbar with partner Natasha Beth Darcy, who has been charged with his murder.

Meleika McKinnon, a nurse at the Walcha Veterinary Clinic, told the court she spoke to Ms Darcy over the phone on June 19, 2017, to book in a desexing procedure for one of Mr Dunbar’s dogs. During that conversation, she said, Ms Darcy told her she needed to pick up some ram sedative – something that is usually only administered to farmers who are managing sheep.

Ms McKinnon alerted the vet, Rachel Greig, who brought it up with Mr Dunbar the following afternoon when he picked up his dog.

Ms Greig told the court that when she asked Mr Dunbar if he needed ram sedative, “he said no, he didn’t appear to have any idea what I was talking about.”

She was so “taken off guard” by this that she made a follow-up phone call to Mr Dunbar to “let him know that Natasha had ordered it, and clear up any confusion,” she said. He told her he wasn’t shearing, so he didn’t know why he would need it.

Ms Greig said she decided to report the incident to police.

“I was very concerned. I couldn’t think of any reason why she would have asked for it that was a legal reason.”

She said looking back through her records, which dated back to 2015, she had only administered a single injection of the sedative – about one millilitre – to Mr Dunbar for use on one animal.

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