Man blackmailed over affair before wife died

A HUSBAND who accidentally ran over his wife twice had only months before confessed to being blackmailed over an affair with another woman, an inquest heard yesterday.

Jon Winskill was backing a work ute on October 23, 2013, when he struck Denise Mary Robinson-Winskill, 58, at their Canterbury lifestyle block, killing her instantly.

Just weeks later, he was back on a dating website, the inquest into her death heard yesterday.

Giving evidence at the inquest, Mr Winskill apologised to the Christchurch schoolteacher's family for his "very irrational and inappropriate" behaviour.

Mr Winskill admitted under questioning from Richard Raymond, counsel for Mrs Robinson-Winskill's family and three children, that he was prone to flying into fits of frustration or rage when things didn't go his way.

Mr Raymond suggested that was what happened when Mr Winskill, a crop sprayer, had asked his wife of 10 years to turn off a hose he was using to fill up spray tanks on his Toyota Landcruiser work ute - a task she was "hopeless" at.

"You were frustrated and angry with her. You saw her walk past ... and walk behind the truck, and in your sense of annoyance and frustration, you failed to look out and carelessly reversed," Mr Raymond said.

Mr Winskill, who accepted he did not look to see where she was before reversing, denied being frustrated or angry that evening.

He said he has replayed in his mind "a million scenarios" about what happened that night and he can't figure out what happened.

"I don't accept any scenario because I just don't know what happened."

Mr Winskill admitted under cross-examination he had been having an affair with a local woman around three months before the accident.

The woman ended up blackmailing him and he paid her $2000 to keep the affair quiet, the inquest heard.

When the woman asked for a further $5000, he confessed the extra-marital relationship to his wife in order to stop the demands.

The "irony" of the situation was that in the months before her death, their relationship had been "very good", Mr Winskill told the inquest.

Just over a fortnight after his wife's fatal accident, Mr Winskill returned to a dating website, arranging dates with other women, he admitted yesterday.

"That was just my personal way of dealing with shock, loneliness and dealing with what happened," he said.

"I am appalled with my behaviour. It was very irrational and inappropriate and I apologise to any family members it has caused distress with."

He said Mrs Robinson-Winskill knew he regretted the affair and that he had just bought her a new ring and they were planning on a holiday to the islands to renew their vows.

The inquest earlier heard that Mr Winskill was topping up a large water tank on the back of his work ute about 7.45pm for the next day's jobs when he asked his wife to turn off a tap inside a shed, out of his sight.

Mrs Robinson-Winskill, a "devoted and passionate" English teacher and former dean at Cashmere High School, eventually found the tap and turned it off, before walking out of the shed.

She walked behind her husband's ute as he was attempting to park in its usual place in a nearby shed.

While he was reversing, he backed over her.

When Mr Winskill realised he'd hit something, he drove forward and ran over her again, Senior Constable Warren Dwyer said.

Mr Winskill ran inside to ring 111 on the landline at 7.53pm, before using a cellphone and rushing back to his wife where he began CPR.

A local Lincoln volunteer fire crew arrived soon after, closely followed by St John ambulance.

Mrs Robinson-Winskill could not be revived and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police concluded there was no criminal liability or suspicious circumstances surrounding Mrs Robinson-Winskill's death.

Mr Winskill told police at the scene he "just didn't see her".

"I felt a bump. I got out and there she was," Detective Constable Gabrielle Thompson recalled him telling her.

She arrived at the scene just over an hour after the incident and described Mr Winskill as being "distraught" and "shocked".

"She was always so careful. She wouldn't go near farm machinery," Mr Winskill said, in explaining why he hadn't checked to see where she was before reversing.

The inquest, before Coroner David Crerar, continues today.


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