THE accused in the Safeway poison case, Dr Paul Agutter, went into the

witness box yesterday to deny repeatedly that he deliberately poisoned

his wife and covered his tracks by placing contaminated tonic water on

supermarket shelves without caring who bought it.

Dr Agutter also insisted that Ms Carole Bonsall, the new woman in his

life, was not putting him under any pressure to leave his wife and marry


He denies trying to murder his wife, Alex, 39, by putting atropine in

her gin and tonic at their home at Kilduff Lodge, Athelstaneford, East

Lothian, on August 28 this year. He further denies placing tonic water

contaminated with atropine on shelves at Safeway's at Swanston,

Edinburgh, on August 24.

During more than two hours of evidence, Dr Agutter, 48, told the High

Court in Edinburgh that the only other ''crime'' he had been charged

with involved a parking ticket.

His counsel, Mr Neil Murray, QC, put to him evidence that suggested he

had the opportunity and the ability to obtain the poison and what the

tabloid press might regard as the motive to attempt to murder his wife.

''No, I had no motive,'' replied Dr Agutter, a lecturer in

biochemistry at Edinburgh's Napier University.

Mr Murray: You had a mistress, hadn't you? Dr Agutter: I would not use

that word.

Do you find that an offensive word? -- Yes.

Dr Agutter accepted Mr Murray's phrase that he had ''two ladies in his


He agreed he had spoken to turnkeys at Edinburgh Sheriff Court after

his arrest but denied admitting his guilt to them. He said the

conversation had taken place after three fellow prisoners set upon him

in the cells, giving him a cracked rib, two black eyes, a split lip, and

a loose tooth.

Dr Agutter agreed he might have been at Safeways on August 24 putting

two bottles of tonic water on shelves but said he had found them on the


Asked why he had not dialled 999 when his wife became ill on August

28, but simply left a message through his GP's answering service, Dr

Agutter replied: ''I take the view that our emegency services are badly

overstretched and I would only telephone 999 for an ambulance if I knew

I was facing an immediately life-threatening situation.''

He was asked to explain evidence which showed the concentration of

atropine in his wife's drink was markedly higher than the concentration

in a bottle of tonic he had bought at Safeway on August 24. Mr Murray

pointed out the obvious explanation was that the poison had been put

directly into his wife's glass.

Dr Agutter said another possible explanation was that powdered

atropine had been used to contaminate the tonic bottle and some of it

had become stuck around the neck before dropping into the glass when the

tonic was poured. That would have caused a higher concentration.

Questioned by Mr Andrew Lamb, Advocate-depute, Dr Agutter was reminded

about a meeting with his GP a week before the Safeway incident.

The GP gave evidence that Dr Agutter had felt suicidal because of a

number of problems, including the fact that he was under pressure to

leave his wife and marry Ms Bonsall.

''I never once felt under pressure from Carole of that sort,'' replied

Dr Agutter.

Mr Lamb: Is it not the position that your feelings towards your

situation persisted and that, as a consequence, you set out to poison

your wife deliberately?

Dr Agutter: No sir.

And, at the same time with a view to cover the tracks of what you were

doing, you adulterated tonic water at Safeways and allowed it to be put

on shelves regardless of who might buy the tonic with atrophine

poisoning in it? -- I did not do it.

That explains why the atropine in your wife's drink was substantially

higher than anywhere else. -- No sir, that's not the explanation.

The trial continues.