Woman to face trial accused of plot to kill ex-husband

Jacob Shteyman |

Lisa Lines will face trial over an alleged plot to kill her former husband.
Lisa Lines will face trial over an alleged plot to kill her former husband.

A former lecturer is set to face a trial accused of repeatedly plotting to kill her former ex-husband, as well as his mother.

Lisa Lines, 43, was denied bail in Adelaide Magistrates Court on Monday, appearing for the first time in South Australia where she is accused of attempting to orchestrate the murder of the father of her two children, Jonathon Hawtin.

The alleged conspiracy began with an October 2017 incident in a garage at Lines’ Adelaide Hills property that left Mr Hawtin, now 36, a tetraplegic – paralysed from the neck down.

Zacharia Bruckner, Lines’ then-lover and 13 years her junior, was found with a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

Police initially charged Mr Hawtin, who had suffered several axe wounds to the neck, with attempted murder, assuming Bruckner was acting in self-defence.

Lines had in June 2017 told Mr Hawtin that she wanted to separate, a jury was told in his trial.

She began a romantic relationship with Bruckner in August that year.

The jury of six men and six women unanimously acquitted Mr Hawtin after three hours of deliberation in 2019. 

In 2020, major crime detectives in South Australia reopened the investigation and found crime scene evidence did not add up with Lines and Bruckner’s version of events, SA Director of Public Prosecutions Martin Hinton told Magistrate John Wells on Monday.

Mr Hinton said it pointed to Mr Hawtin being the victim.

Lines, a former academic and expert on the Spanish Civil War, is also accused of attempting to murder Mr Hawtin on New Year’s Day 2018 with another woman she was romantically involved with, Letiticia Fortune.

The 34-year-old, who appeared alongside Lines in the dock, is alleged to have entered Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre, where Mr Hawtin was convalescing from his injuries, with the intention of suffocating him with a pillow.

Jonathon Hawtin (second left) (file image)
Jonathon Hawtin (second left) was cleared by a jury and prosecutors say he was the actual victim. (David Mariuz/AAP PHOTOS)

Following Mr Hawtin’s trial in 2019, Lines is alleged to have fled to Thailand, along with their children, before settling in Taiwan – which has no extradition treaty with Australia.

From Taiwan she remained in contact with Bruckner, with whom she sought to hire a hitman to “finish the job”, Mr Hinton said.

But the man she and Bruckner thought they were hiring to kill Mr Hawtin and his mother Rhonda was an undercover operative, Mr Wells was told.

While overseas, Lines secured a passport and citizenship to the nation of Vanuatu and remained beyond the reach of Australian authorities, Mr Hinton said.

She was arrested in the Pacific Island nation of Palau earlier this month and extradited to Australia.

Lines’ lawyer, Craig Caldicott, said she denied trying to murder her ex-husband and intended to plead not guilty to all charges.

She claims she took the children to Thailand on holiday but did not return because she feared for her safety after receiving threats.

Mr Wells said Lines remained an unacceptable flight risk and denied her bail.

He will consider releasing Fortune on home detention at a hearing next Monday.

Mr Hawtin, who has been reunited with his children, thanked police for their “years of hard work”.

“After six long years, I am profoundly relieved my children are finally safe,” he said in a statement.

“This has been a cruel and exhausting struggle.

“My mother and I have been through hell, but we never gave up and we never would have.”

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