THE owner of a small fish and chip shop in Hermon near Newcastle Emlyn told a jury this afternoon his wife’s death was an accident.

Geoffrey Bran, aged 71, is accused of murdering Mavis Bran by throwing boiling cooking oil over her.

But Bran told Swansea crown court she fell and pulled the fryers over herself.

The oil came out of the pans “like a waterfall,” he said.

Bran entered the witness box to give the jury his account of what happened on October 23 last year. Mrs Bran died six days later from the effects of severe burns.

The pair had run many businesses throughout the area, including Cardigan.

Bran said their marriage of more than 30 years had been good although they occasionally argued, “but not seriously. I never hit her.”

In January, 2018, they opened the Chipoteria in the grounds of their home, “one of 15 or 16 businesses that we had.”

He said Mavis was the “business brain” behind their ventures and he would do any building work that was necessary.

He said business at the Chipoteria was slow at first but by October it was doing well.

He said his wife began to drink more and more until she was drinking two and a half bottles of red wine a day, but he gave up completely for health reasons

On October 23, Mavis began drinking red wine at 9.30am and had at least one brandy.

He said shortly after midday an order came in from Guto Jones and they prepared to cook—he the chips in a cabin and Mavis the fish in a van.

Mavis came into the cabin and said the cooking oil in the van was not good enough and so used his fryers to cook four pieces of fish.

“I told her to turn down the temperature because I had used the fryers for chips,“ he said.

Bran left to prepare some more chips and just after he returned Mavis came into the cabin and complained that he had let the fish over-cook.

She scooped the fish out of the fryers and put them onto trays, spilling some oil as she did so.

The next thing he saw, he said, was his wife “flying towards the ground.”

“I did not see her actually fall and I don’t know why she fell. I saw her when her head was about nine inches from the floor.

“She grabbed hold of the fryers as she fell and they began to move. I think it was the weight of the oil that was pushing them. The whole thing came away.

“The oil came out like a waterfall, all over her chest at first,” he added.

Bran told the jury later that he now felt “terrible” about not telephoning for an ambulance as his wife tried to cope with burns that would prove to be fatal.

He said he assumed that Gareth Davies, a lodger, had called for one.

But the jury has heard that an ambulance was not called for until after Caroline Morgan, a family friend, arrived from her home near Cardigan, and realised how badly hurt she was.

“She was screaming. She must have been in agony,” said Paul Lewis, prosecuting, during cross examination. “You said you loved her and would not like to see her in pain.

“But the first thing you did was to put the fryer unit back together. That was your first thought.”

Bran agreed that after Mrs Bran had run screaming into the house he did not follow her to see how she was.

He said he could not explain why. 

Instead he served Guto Jones, a customer who had telephoned with an order, with his meal.

By then the cooking unit was back in place.

The prosecution claim it was never out of place—and that Bran had deliberately poured the boiling oil over his wife.

Mrs Bran was airlifted to Morriston hospital in Swansea but her condition worsened. She was never able to give police an account of what happened but, say the prosecution, she told a friend and paramedics that her husband had poured boiling oil over her.

Bran denies murder and the trial continues. A verdict is expected early next week.