An estranged husband found guilty of murdering his ex-wife and then trying to make her death look like a suicide will not face trial over allegations he had repeatedly raped her.
The real reason Adrian Basham, 44, murdered his estranged wife Samantha Fraser was revealed by Daily Mail Australia last month after it fought a court imposed gag order that had hidden the grim truth.
Ms Fraser was to testify against her husband in the County Court of Victoria over the rape claims.
A Supreme Court of Victoria jury found Basham guilty in April of Ms Fraser’s murder.
The hulking brute had long denied murdering Ms Fraser in her fortified Phillip Island home on July 23, 2018.
Adrian Basham has been found guilty of murdering his estranged wife Samantha Fraser
Samantha Fraser was a loving mum who would never have taken ger own life, a court heard
It took the jury a little over a day to find Basham guilty of the calculated murder.
On Friday, the County Court of Victoria informed lawyers acting on behalf of Daily Mail Australia that the Director of Public Prosecutions had ‘discontinued’ the case.
The reasons for the decision remain unclear.
For weeks the jury had been told Basham had been accused of repeatedly raping his ex-wife and had faced a court hearing over the rapes just seven days after he committed the murder.
The details of the rape had been suppressed in the lower magistrates’ court back in 2019, but was allowed to stand by Supreme Court Justice Lesley Taylor.
Basham had faced multiple charges of raping Ms Fraser both in 2014 and 2016.
‘The Crown case is that there are several motives in this matter, the primary one being the upcoming court case concerning the rape allegations seven days away from when she died,’ Crown prosecutor Nanette Rogers SC told the jury during her closing address.
Basham, who claimed Ms Fraser was alive after he assaulted her and must have committed suicide after he left, had pleaded not guilty.
Ms Fraser had alleged Basham had first raped her in 2014 while she was grabbing food out of their pantry.
Samantha Fraser fought hard for her life, but could not overpower the hulking beast who murdered her
Basham makes his getaway after murdering the mother of his children and making it look like she had suicided
‘When the accused locked the door of the pantry from the inside and undid Samantha’s jeans and had sexual intercourse with her. He then unlocked the pantry and left,’ Ms Rogers told the jury.
Basham would allegedly rape her again that very same year, this time while she slept.
‘He ejaculated, rolled over and fell asleep and she got out of the bed,’ Ms Rogers said.
The third rape allegedly took place in 2016, also while Ms Fraser was fast asleep.
‘She froze for a moment before pushing him off and she said to the accused, “You can’t do that. I was asleep. That is rape”, and she went and slept elsewhere,’ the jury was told.
Ms Fraser’s bloody and bruised dead body was found by police with a rope tied around her neck and a step ladder kicked over beside her.
Ms Rogers told the jury Ms Fraser had been terrified of how Basham would react to her fronting him at court about the upcoming rape case.
‘It’s inconceivable that Adrian Basham was unaware that on 30 July Samantha Fraser was required to give evidence,’ Ms Rogers said.
While the jury heard other reasons why Basham had motive to murder his estranged wife, they were advised it was the rape allegations at the front of his mind.
‘The prosecution case is that he killed her to prevent her from giving evidence against him about the rape charges at the committal hearing on 30 July 2018 at La Trobe Valley Magistrates’ Court. Seven days away,’ Ms Rogers said.
What the jury was not told then was that Basham still faced a separate rape trial, which was proceed in the County Court of Victoria despite Ms Fraser’s murder.
Samantha Fraser told her new boyfriend in a text message the night before her death that she had been looking forward to her future
Adrian Basham bashed and murdered his wife before attempting to make it look like a suicide
The jury heard Basham had repeatedly threatened harm against his ex-wife, allegedly telling Ms Fraser ‘If I can’t have you no one will’.
Ms Fraser was so worried about Basham in the months before her death she had moved in with her parents at Seagrove Way on Phillip Island – south east of Melbourne.
It was there, in her parents’ garage, that she died while they were away on a trip to the United States.
Police had alleged Basham had snuck into the garage as Ms Fraser returned home after meeting with friends.
She had been due to pick-up her kids from school that afternoon but never turned up.
DNA evidence shows that Basham’s biological material was found under both fingernails of Ms Fraser’s hands, the jury heard.
‘Which is indicative, we say, of her actively struggling with and defending herself against the accused,’ Ms Rogers said.
The jury heard a forensic expert found deep bruising to the left and right fingers and hands of Ms Fraser, which suggested punches being thrown by her.
When done, prosecutors claimed Basham attempted to clean up the bloody crime scene.
‘Adrian Basham also wet Samantha Fraser’s hair … he wet her hair to remove what he could of her blood. He may well have used her white top to do this, but her hair was wet, and it shouldn’t have been,’ Ms Rogers said.
Adrian Basham is accused of killing Samantha Fraser (pictured) inside her Phillip Island home in 2018
The court heard Ms Fraser Samantha weighed just 57kgs and was considerably smaller in height than Basham.
‘She fought desperately for her life. There was deep bruising to her hands and wrists, consistent with being restrained and she managed to scratch his nose and or arm,’ Ms Rogers said.
‘She suffered rotational force and velocity applied to her head when she was assaulted, and her head was spun round.’
Ms Rogers urged the jury to reject any notion Ms Fraser could have tied the complex knot used to hang her from the garage door, branding the defence ‘absolute rubbish’.
‘This was not a suicide. Samantha Fraser did not kill herself after being assaulted so extensively by the accused. It was a cold and brutal murder, and it was Adrian Basham who did it,’ she said.
Samantha Fraser had been expected to pick-up her children from school, but never arrived
In closing the defence case, Basham’s barrister Ashley Halphen told the jury they ought have a reasonable doubt in the case against him, because Ms Fraser may have killed herself.
‘We submit Mr Basham left the garage at Seagrove Way when Samantha Fraser was still alive. Nothing has changed since this was raised when we first addressed you way back when,’ he said.
‘It is a possibility, that we submit is reasonable, and cannot be excluded on the evidence.
‘The only possible explanation then for the death of Samantha Fraser is suicide.’
The court heard Basham had been sighted on Phillip Island in the days leading up to the alleged murder.
The home where Ms Fraser was staying has been described as a ‘fortress’, the jury heard.
‘This house was fortified, for want of a better word,’ Ms Rogers said.
‘There was no means of access at all to the house by the would-be burglar, fortified by the pieces of timber in the window tracks and door tracks.’
The Cowes home where Samantha Fraser was allegedly murdered in 2018
Basham was captured on CCTV lurking around the home where his ex-wife was living
Ms Fraser was certain Basham had been tracking her phone.
Although Basham had an active intervention order out on him, she feared it would not stop him from doing her harm.
While Basham had been upset about pending court proceedings involving his ex-wife, the jury heard he had another motive to kill.
‘There is a third and lesser motive that the Crown says, for why he killed Samantha Fraser, and it’s jealousy,’ Ms Rogers said.
Ms Rogers told the jury there was ‘no way on earth’ she would have committed suicide and abandoned her young children.
‘She was a loving mother, loved and devoted to her children,’ she said.
‘This was a staged suicide by the accused with the nice touch of the knocked over step ladder, very close to the hanging body,’ she said.
Mr Halphen admitted his client had caused his ex-wife some ‘nasty injuries’.
‘There is no doubting that Mr Basham conducted himself poorly from time to time and on a number of occasions,’ he said last week.
‘Take for instance the fact that by his very own admission, he assaulted Ms Fraser.’
Mr Halphen told the jury Basham was not to be judged on his alleged bad behaviour leading up to Ms Fraser’s death.
‘Members of the jury, you don’t have to like Mr Basham. That is not what this case is about,’ he said.
‘You might think, Samantha Fraser was a very nice person, and that’s understandable. But keep that thought (out) of the equation, you must judge with your heads and not your hearts.’
Mr Halphen said Ms Fraser had spoken to her new boyfriend about having suicidal thoughts back in 2017.
‘The fact that she considered taking her own life in 2017 should not be lost in the overall equation or the possibility of suicide at another time, in this case one year later,’ he said.
He dismissed Basham’s various threats made after the breakdown of his marriage.
‘We submit that his bark is without bite,’ Mr Halphen said.
He told the jury there was no evidence indicating Basham made a threat to Ms Fraser in 2018.
‘In the context of the intervention order proceedings, he has never admitted to behaving towards Samantha Fraser in any improper way and there has never been a court finding of wrongdoing,’ Mr Halphen said.
Basham will return to court for a pre-sentence plea hearing in September.
1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
Lifeline 13 11 14
Wife killer who tried to make murder look like suicide at Phillip Island has rape charges dropped