Chip shop owner Geoffrey Bran cleared of killing wife burned with boiling oil from fryer

A husband has been cleared of killing his wife after he was accused of burning her with scalding oil following a row in their chip shop.

Geoffrey Bran, 71, was accused of pushing or throwing a deep fat fryer onto Mavis Bran, his wife of 38 years, leaving her with horrific burns that led to her death six days later.

Before she died, Mrs Bran told a friend and paramedics that her husband had "flipped" and attacked her with the fryer because she had been "nagging him" inside the Chipoteria chip shop in the rural village of Hermon, Carmarthenshire.

But on Monday, a jury found Mr Bran not guilty of murder or manslaughter following a week-long trial.

Mr Bran was in tears as the jury at Swansea Crown Court read out their not guilty verdict, before judge Paul Thomas QC released him from the dock.

Mrs Bran died from multi-organ failure in hospital six days after suffering "horrific burns" to 46% of her body after developing sepsis and hypothermia and undergoing surgery to remove some of her burned skin.

Mr Bran said his wife must have been "confused" when blaming him but said he "couldn't find an answer" as to why he then ignored her for more than two hours after she was hurt.

He told the court he loved and missed his wife, despite telling police in an interview: "It's a miracle we lasted that long. But we used to get on OK. We've had our ups and downs."

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Lodger Gareth Davies told the court Mrs Bran returned to her home naked from the waist up with "crimson" peeling skin around 1pm on October 23 last year, shouting "I've been burned" and "I've had boiling hot fat all over me".

Mrs Bran then rang her friend, Caroline Morgan, telling her: "Geoff has thrown boiling oil over me. Please get here, I need you now, help."

Miss Morgan said she found Mrs Bran "shocked" and "shaking" and told Mr Davies to call for an ambulance, before telling Mr Bran, who was still serving customers, to shut the chip shop.

Mavis Bran at the couple's roadside cafe in Hermon, near Carmarthen. (Pictures: Wales News Service)
Mavis Bran at the couple's roadside cafe in Hermon, near Carmarthen. (Pictures: Wales News Service)

Miss Morgan told the court Mrs Bran said: "I was nagging him and he flipped."

She was taken by air ambulance to the burns unit at Morriston Hospital in Swansea.

Mr Bran was initially arrested on suspicion of assault and denied attacking his wife, telling police: "She got burned with the chip fryer. She slipped and it came off the top and went over her. Don't ask."

The couple, who had no children together, owned around 10 businesses around South Wales, including the Chipoteria which opened in January 2018 in a cabin situated next to their home in the small West Wales village.

Mr Bran claimed his wife had previously spread lies about him, and suggested she was "halfway" to being drunk on the afternoon she was injuries after drinking glasses of red wine.

Paramedics found she had a blood alcohol reading of 108 mg/dl, higher than the drink-drive limit of 80mg/dl.

Outside court, Mr Bran stood next to a family spokesman as she read out a statement asking that they be allowed to "get on with our lives".

The spokeswoman said: "The loss of Mavis has left the family devastated and we ask that we can now get on with our lives and grieve properly without further intrusion."

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