Trial of Former Bomb Expert

Nicholas Fabian from Vigo is on trial at Maidstone Crown Court charged with the attempted murder of his wife. he has pleaded Not Guilty. Read the latest from the hearing here

 

Tuesday 15th February

A reservist soldier accused of trying to murder his pregnant wife told a court today it was not him that had planted a hand grenade in her car and that he actually tried to save her life.

Victoria Fabian, 33, suffered extensive leg injuries in the blast in a car park behind the home she shared with Nicholas Fabian, also 33, in Highview, Vigo, Kent, on March 5 last year.

Her eight-year-old son Charlie, who was in the car with her, managed to get out of the passenger door unscathed while her unborn child also escaped unharmed, Maidstone Crown Court heard.

Fabian denies a charge of attempting to murder Mrs Fabian, along with a charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and one of causing an explosion likely to endanger life.

As he gave evidence at his trial today, his defence barrister Michael Wood QC, asked: ``Did you plant a grenade in your wife's car?''

``No I did not,'' he answered.

Mr Wood asked: ``Did you cause that explosion?'' He said: ``No I did not cause the explosion.''

The barrister asked: ``Did you try to kill your wife?'' Fabian replied: ``No I didn't try to kill my wife.''

Asked by Mr Wood what happened immediately after the blast Fabian, who had been having an affair with another woman, described how the car and his wife's legs were on fire.

He said: ``I put it out with my hands, I believe.

``Her leg was bleeding badly. It was pumping out so I put a tourniquet around the top of her leg to stop the flow of blood, and also just below the kneecap I put one as well.''

The defendant said he then got his neighbours to bring out blankets and pillows to make Mrs Fabian more comfortable and he held her hand while they waited for the emergency services to arrive.

He told jurors: ``I was trying to save her life. In my head I was thinking I was going to lose her and lose the baby as well.''

Fabian admitted that after his arrest, hours later, he lied to police that his relationship with his lover Jackie Phillips was over.

``I was embarrassed and ashamed,'' he said. ``My wife's down in hospital and basically I wanted to get out of there so I could get home.

``I knew that it was going to come out in the investigation and I wanted to tell Vicky myself, but I never got the chance.''

He continued: ``At the time I was scared, panicked, and my head was all over the place.

``When I saw the picture of the fly-off lever and pin I got really scared I was going to be charged with the attempted murder of my wife.

``I started splurting rubbish out and once I said it I couldn't take it back and it was escalating.''

Mr Wood asked Fabian about his relationship with Ms Phillips, who during her evidence in the trial as a prosecution witness said he had promised he would leave his wife for her.

Standing in the dock wearing a grey suit and striped tie, Fabian admitted he loved her but said he had never told her he would leave his wife.

He said he felt ``ashamed'' of himself for cheating on Mrs Fabian, whom he married in 2005 but had known since they were childhood playmates.

He said he treated Charlie, now nine, her son from a previous relationship, ``exactly the same'' as Harry, the four-year-old son they had had together. Their second son, Freddie, was born three months after the explosion took place.

Mr Wood questioned the defendant about the training he had to go through before his deployment to Afghanistan.

Fabian, who served in the Army between 1994 and 2004, remained a reservist soldier and had been called up to carry out a six to eight month tour of duty beginning at the end of March.

The Crown alleges he stole the hand grenade that blew up Mrs Fabian's car during a training exercise at a firing range in North Yorkshire ahead of the deployment.

Asked directly whether he did this, he answered ``No, I did not'', adding that there would have been no opportunity for him to have done so as he was never alone and was searched following the exercise.

He told jurors that other items that were found in his house and garden shed, such as broken down fireworks that the prosecution alleges could have been used to make homemade bombs, were in fact to make a rocket for his sons.

Fabian, who has pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing ammunition without a firearm licence, also said a flare found in his bedroom cupboard must have accidentally been brought home with him as he had come across it during a clear-out of his kit.

Friday 11th February

Court not sitting

Thursday 10th February

The type of hand grenade allegedly used by a reservist soldier to try to murder his pregnant wife in a car blast could kill someone within 10 metres, a court heard today.

Victoria Fabian, 33, suffered severe leg injuries in the blast from a grenade allegedly planted in the driver's footwell by her husband Nicholas Fabian on March 5 last year.

Mrs Fabian, who still walks with the aid of crutches, was pregnant at the time of the explosion but gave birth to a healthy boy three months later.

Her son, aged eight at the time and who was also in the blazing car when it exploded, managed to free himself from the passenger seat unscathed.

Maidstone Crown Court heard that the British Army issue L109 grenade allegedly used by 33-year-old Fabian could explode less than five seconds after its ring had been pulled.

Forensic scientist Sarah Wilson said that type of device had a lethal range of 10m and that a completely safe distance would be 20m.

Ms Wilson added that the L109s contained 155 grammes of high explosive and could shower up to 2,000 fragments during an explosion.

She told the court: ``It's my opinion that a grenade which contained high explosive was inserted in the wheel area which would explain the damage to the vehicle.

``What appears to have happened is that a small explosion occurred in the wheel arch and from the pitting and the holes in the vehicle a lot of shrapnel or material has been expelled from that explosion.

``Some of these may have travelled through the engine compartment where there are fuel lines and that may explain why it caught fire.''

A hand grenade lever, a grenade safety pin and fishing hook were among items found near the burnt out Mazda in a car park behind the Fabian family home in Highview, Vigo, Kent.

Ms Wilson explained one possible theory on how the grenade could have detonated, after hearing how the blast happened after Mrs Fabian reversed out of a parking bay.

``To detonate it, you have to pull out the pin,'' said Ms Wilson.

``One possible method of initiation would be to attach something to the pin, anchor that to something else, like the wheel, and when the vehicle begins to move the hook and line tighten and eventually pulls out the pin.

``Once the pin is removed then the grenade will start its initiation process and it will explode.''

Fabian, of Highview, Vigo, denies attempting to murder Mrs Fabian, causing grievous bodily harm with intent, and causing an explosion likely to endanger life.

During a search of his house and garden shed police found a 16mm mini flare, the components of a pipe bomb, and a box packed with the constituent parts of broken-down fireworks with pyrotechnic fuses attached, turning them into dangerous improvised explosive devices, the court heard.

Also found in his possession were 95 rounds of 5.56mm rifle bullets.

Jurors have been told that Fabian has pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing ammunition without a firearms licence in relation to this, although he claimed he had accidentally taken them from a training exercise.

The trial continues

Tuesday 8th February

The wife of a reservist soldier accused of trying to murder her by planting a hand grenade in her car wept today as she faced him in court.

Victoria Fabian, 33, suffered extensive leg injuries in the blast in a car park behind the home she shared with Nicholas Fabian, also 33, in Highview, Vigo, Kent, on March 5 last year.

The mother-of-three was pregnant at the time but gave birth to a healthy baby boy three months later, while her eight-year-old son, who was in the car with her, managed to get out of the passenger door unscathed, jurors at Maidstone Crown Court heard.

Mrs Fabian broke down in tears as she entered the courtroom to give evidence on the second day of her husband's trial and saw him in the dock.

Mrs Fabian, who still uses crutches to walk, said the explosion happened the day after she confronted her husband of five years after discovering he had run up #1,400 of debt on a secret credit card.

She said she also suspected he was having an affair with a woman named Jackie Phillips, whom he knew from working at the Battersea Dogs Home site at Brands Hatch.

The court heard that Mrs Fabian decided to write him a letter ``so he could consider things without a heated argument developing'', and left it out for him when she went to work a late shift as a nurse at Tonbridge Cottage Hospital on the evening of March 4.

Graham Reeds QC, for the prosecution, read out an extract from the letter in which she said: ``I just feel that you're taking me for a fool. Whether it's because you're protecting me or you're scared, I don't know.''

However, when she returned from work later that night, he told her he had not read it.

She told jurors that she told him she thought they needed to talk and he agreed, and she brought up the credit card ``he promised me he'd tell me the truth''.

``We agreed to put it behind us,'' she added. ``We watched something on telly. We were hungry so we had a pizza and a cuddle on the sofa.''

Mrs Fabian continued to weep as she went on to describe the explosion the next day.

She said the family had planned to return the Mazda car she had borrowed from her mother and take the children for a haircut before going for a meal.

Because they were dropping the Mazda off, they needed to go in separate cars, so she got in the borrowed car with Charlie, her son from a previous relationship, while her husband got in the family's Vauxhall Zafira with their own son Harry, then aged three.

Mrs Fabian said she started to reverse out of the parking bay.

``The windscreen shattered and there was a loud bang.

``I can remember thinking a tree or something had fallen on the car and Charlie was asking me what had happened, and I couldn't feel anything from my waist down so I told him to get out of the car.''

She said the next thing she remembered was ``Nick running towards me, crying''.

``He was trying to get me out of the car. I remember feeling that I was losing a lot of blood.''

The court heard that a neighbour also rushed to help get her out of the vehicle and extinguish her jeans, which were on fire, before the car was engulfed in flames.

Mrs Fabian, who was allowed to sit down while she gave her evidence, said the explosion blasted holes in her legs and she needed skin grafts to repair the damage. She remained in hospital for two months.

Asked by Mr Reeds what their relationship had been like, Mrs Fabian said: ``He was a good husband and a good dad.2

But questioned further, she added: ``There were ups and downs. Probably more downs.''

Mrs Fabian said her suspicions were raised when she found a change of address letter from his bank. She also discovered the credit card debt and knew the money had not been spent on her or the children.

She also suspected him of having an affair and, when she looked through his mobile phone messages, she found one from a person named on the phone as Jack.

`It was a text message about oral sex,'' she said.

She added that, when she questioned Fabian about it, he claimed he had received it from a male friend called Jack by mistake.

Mrs Fabian also told the court that, on the morning of the explosion, her husband had asked her whether CCTV cameras had been installed in the car park behind their home.

The prosecution alleges that the defendant planted the hand grenade in the car either the night before, after Mrs Fabian had gone to bed, or that morning when he went to take the dog for a walk.

Jurors previously heard that Fabian was a reservist soldier after serving in the Army between 1994 and 2004, and had been called up to do a tour of Afghanistan in January last year.

He is alleged to have stolen the hand grenade during a training exercise at a firing range in North Yorkshire ahead of his deployment.

Fabian, of Highview, Vigo, denies attempting to murder Mrs Fabian, along with a charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and one of causing an explosion likely to endanger life.

Later, Mrs Fabian rushed out of the courtroom as Ms Phillips gave her evidence.

Mr Reeds asked Ms Phillips, who was appearing as a prosecution witness, if Fabian had ever talked about his relationship with his wife.

Ms Phillips replied: ``He said that he didn't love her any more, that they were only really together for the sake of the children.''

Asked by Mr Reeds about Fabian's deployment to Afghanistan, she added: ``He promised as soon as he got back he'd leave his wife for me.''

Ms Phillips, who stood in the witness box dressed in a black trouser suit and with her long blonde hair tied back in a ponytail, told jurors that their affair began after he started working at the dogs' home in 2009 and they became close from regularly being on the same watch together.

She said he would tell his wife he was visiting friends or that he was working night shifts when he was really seeing her, and they had a short break together at a hotel in the New Forest in September 2009.

Jurors heard that when he heard he would be going to Afghanistan, he told Ms Phillips he had put her name on a life insurance policy along with his wife and children in case anything happened to him.

She told the court she thought this was ``bizarre'' but admitted she never saw the document.

Text messages he sent to her were read out in court. ``I can't stop thinking about you, xx'', said one, while another read, ``hello sexy, and thank you for a great night''.

Ms Phillips said she received hundreds of texts from Fabian during their 10-month relationship and he had told her he wanted to marry her and have a baby with her.

However she admitted that he had never told her that his wife was pregnant, and reacted with ``disbelief'' when she found out about it in news reports after the explosion.

The trial continues.

Monday Feb 7th

A former Army bomb disposal expert tried to murder his pregnant wife by planting a hand grenade in her car after she confronted him about his affair, a court heard today.

Victoria Fabian, 33, suffered extensive leg injuries in the blast in a car park behind the home she shared with Nicholas Fabian, also 33, in Highview, Vigo, Kent.

Her eight-year-old son, who was in the car with her, got out of the passenger door unscathed while her unborn child also escaped unharmed, Maidstone Crown Court heard.

Opening the prosecution's case, Graham Reeds QC told jurors that Fabian was a reservist after serving in the Army between 1994 and 2004, and had been called up to do a tour of Afghanistan in January last year.

Mr Reeds said: ``It is the prosecution case against him that during the course of his weapons training he stole a hand grenade from a firing range in North Yorkshire, and on the 5 March last year he used it to booby-trap his wife's car.

``He had the intention of causing an explosion that would kill her, or at the very least, to cause her really serious bodily harm and to endanger her life.''

The court heard that Mrs Fabian suspected her husband of having an affair with a woman he had met through work named Jackie Phillips.

Mr Reeds said that analysis of his mobile phone showed that he had sent her a number of text messages proclaiming his love for her in the days leading up to the explosion.

One message read: ``Hello sexy, I love you so much xxx'', the court heard.

Jurors were told that Mrs Fabian wrote her husband a letter confronting him about her suspicions and also over a credit card debt of £1,400 she had discovered he had run up.

She left the letter out while she went to work a late shift as a nurse at Tonbridge Cottage Hospital on March 4 before returning home at around 10.20pm and talking the contents through with Fabian. After this she ``thought they had resolved their problems'', Mr Reeds said.

The barrister said there were two opportunities for Fabian to have planted the device in Mrs Fabian's borrowed Mazda.

He said the first was later that night when she went to bed and he went back downstairs. Activity on the family computer showed that someone had looked at the ArmyNet website along with child support information and jobs websites until after midnight, the court heard.

The second opportunity was when he took the dog for a walk the next morning, jurors were told.

Fabian denies attempting to murder Mrs Fabian, along with a charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and one of causing an explosion likely to endanger life.

mfl

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