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Murder accused blamed ex-wife, court told

Samantha Fraser revealed to a counsellor that she was afraid of leaving her “domineering and controlling” husband one year before he allegedly killed her, a court has been told.

Adrian Basham, 45, is on trial in the Victorian Supreme Court charged with murdering Ms Fraser, whose body was found at her Phillip Island home in July 2018.

She had turned 38 the day before.

Ms Fraser told her counsellor, Terence Melvin, in April 2017 that she feared leaving Basham as she thought he was vindictive and “wouldn’t let the matter rest”.

“She was particularly concerned that Mr Basham was too domineering, too controlling in the relationship,’ Mr Melvin said on the Tuesday.

“This had been brewing for some time.”

Mr Melvin said Ms Fraser was at this point struggling with depression and had difficulty eating, sleeping and breathing.

But during sessions he had with the couple – both separately and together – the “highly-strung” Basham blamed the relationship breakdown on his wife.

“It struck me very early on that Mr Basham took very little responsibility for his behaviour or his contribution to what was happening in the relationship,” Mr Melvin said.

The now-retired psychologist offered to keep counselling Basham, but told him to move out of the family home and respect his ex-wife’s decision to split up.

Basham didn’t return Mr Melvin’s calls after April 2017, while Ms Fraser continued to see him until December that year.

Defence barrister Ashley Halphen has argued Ms Fraser took her own life after Basham turned up at her home and assaulted her on the day she died.

But Mr Melvin said that toward the end of his sessions with Ms Fraser, who had three children with Basham, he believed she was stronger and did not pose a suicide risk.

“The children were the most significant thing in her life and I felt reassured that she was not suicidal,” he said.

“She had started to reach out to friends and family and was building a network around her which involve regular meetings and contacts.

“She had progressed quite significantly and I think she had reached a much more stable place in her life. Her confidence had returned. She felt much more reassured within herself.”

Ms Fraser and Basham met in late 2005 and married in 2007.

But the pair separated in 2017, with Ms Fraser taking out intervention orders against him.

Basham then turned up at her Cowes home and waited for 90 minutes, while she dropped their children at school and had coffee with a friend at a local cafe.

It’s alleged he strangled her with a rope and then manipulated the scene to make it look like suicide.

Basham had threatened Ms Fraser after they separated, prosecutor Nanette Rogers SC previously said, warning her that violent criminals could easily break into her home.

He also allegedly told her that “if I can’t have you, then no one will”.

The trial continues.

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