Wife accused of lacing husband's chilli with drugs walks free from court

Tristan Kirk
Roberta Maasdorp, 46, was found not guilty of slipping insomnia and anti-psychotic medication into husband Peter’s evening meal

A mother-of-three who was accused of trying to poison her husband with drugs in his chilli con carne walked free from court after insisting she was the victim of a plot to frame her.

Roberta Maasdorp, 46, was said to have mixed three types of medication into husband Peter’s evening meal as their relationship crumbled and he threatened to file for divorce.

But she insisted to police she had only added mint and mango chutney to the dish, accusing her husband of putting drugs in the meal himself so she would be blamed.

At Croydon Crown Court yesterday, jurors took less than 40 minutes to find Mrs Maasdorp not guilty of administering a poison with intent to injure, aggrieve, or annoy following a trial.

Tests showed the meal, pictured, contained an anti-histamine called promethazine, anti-psychotic drug quetiapine, and insomnia medication zopiclone

The couple’s 23-year marriage had been on the rocks for several years, the court heard, and by August 2015 Mr Maasdorp, a senior psychiatric nurse at Princess Royal University Hospital, had decided to get a divorce.

He claimed he was poisoned by his wife, who was alleged to have mixed insomnia and anti-psychotic medication as well as an anti-histamine, into the sauce, served with minced beef, peppers, onions, and a bed of baby potatoes.

Mr Maasdorp told jurors she left the meal in the microwave for him when he returned to the family home, in Framlingham Crescent, Mottingham, on August 11, 2015, but he spat out the first mouthful when it tasted “acidic”.

He also claimed his wife had, who has mental health problems and had been drinking rum and coke that night, and said she had confessed to “lacing” his food with drugs.

But when arrested, Mrs Maasdorp denied any knowledge of a poisoning plot, insisting: “I only put in mint and mango chutney.”

During the trial, her barrister Derek Barry accused Mr Maasdorp of “putting a very small amount of medication into your own chilli to make a false allegation against Roberta”.

Mrs Maasdorp claimed her husband was angry because she had reported him to the police the day before for assaulting her.

After being questioned and cleared by police, she said her husband was “angry” and told her: “You will pay for this”.

“He had the motive – revenge – for having to go to the police station”, said Mr Barry.

“And he would have had access to his wife’s drugs.”

“I don’t trust my husband”, Mrs Maasdorp later told police.

“I’ve been away for a few days because I am scared for my safety.”

Forensic tests of the food showed it did contain 7.3mgs of the drugs, though Mr Maasdorp did not feel any ill effects.

The couple met in 1990 while they were both training to be nurses in South Africa, they married in 1994 and moved to the UK in 1999.

Their eldest daughter, 19, was due to be a prosecution witness in the case, but refused to come to court to give evidence.

Following the acquittal, Recorder Simon Sterling refused to make a restraining order preventing Mrs Maasdorp from going to the family home unless he was given more evidence that it was necessary.

She has now moved out to Forest Hill and her husband has custody of their two younger daughters, the court heard.

Mrs Maasdorp denied and was found not guilty of administering a poison with intent.