A man who confessed to killing his wife 45 years after she went missing has “taken a turn for the worse” and will likely die before he is sentenced.
A man who confessed to killing his wife 45 years after she went missing has “taken a turn for the worse” and will likely die before he is sentenced.

Man who killed Colleen Adams is knocking on death's door

A South Australian man who confessed to killing his wife 45 years after her disappearance is expected to die from an aggressive brain cancer before he can be sentenced, a court has heard.

Geoffrey Gordon Adams, 72, was earlier this year found guilty of manslaughter after he fatally struck his wife, 24-year-old Colleen, at their home at Maitland, on the Yorke Peninsula, in 1973.

He had been behind bars awaiting sentence when the deadly diagnosis was made.

Mrs Adams' sister, Heather Johncock, said the news was a kind of closure.

"In the end we got to the bottom of what happened, we got through the trial and he had to tell the truth and now this is the end of it," she said.

"The important thing is that we got Colleen back, if this had happened before we might never have known what happened."

Bill Boucaut QC, for Adams, told the Supreme Court on Monday his client "took a turn for the worse" on Friday morning.

"The information was that he was not expected to last the weekend," he said.

"He remains alive but unconscious and in a state which is clearly near-death."

Geoffrey Adams is unlikely to be sentenced for killing his wife, Colleen Adams, after he was diagnosed with a deadly form of brain cancer. Picture: Supplied
Geoffrey Adams is unlikely to be sentenced for killing his wife, Colleen Adams, after he was diagnosed with a deadly form of brain cancer. Picture: Supplied

A letter from Dr Patrick Russell, the physician in charge of Adams' medical team, revealed he has been diagnosed with a type of primary brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme.

In the letter, dated December 10, Dr Russell wrote the cancer carries a "grim prognosis" and Adams was not fit to stand for sentencing.

"His neurological deficit has taken a steep change for the worse," he wrote.

Noting Adams' death appeared to be imminent, Justice David Peek ordered that he could be transported from prison to hospital at any time to undergo testing, treatment or palliative care.

Justice Peek adjourned the matter to April next year, but the hearing will be cancelled if Adams dies before then.

Until September 2018, Adams told police and family members, including the couple's two daughters, Mrs Adams had post-natal depression and could not cope with family life.

He said she told her children "goodbye, you little bastards", packed a suitcase and walked out on the family.

Under mounting pressure, he eventually confessed to killing her with a metal bar in the kitchen of their home.

For 45 years, Geoffrey Adams told the couple’s two daughters their mother had walked out on them. Picture: Supplied
For 45 years, Geoffrey Adams told the couple’s two daughters their mother had walked out on them. Picture: Supplied

He then led police to the spot in the backyard where he had buried his young wife, cementing her death the longest-running cold case to be solved in South Australian history.

Adams was charged with murder but pleaded guilty only to manslaughter because he insisted he never intended for Mrs Adams to die.

He was acquitted of the more serious charge by a Supreme Court jury.

In a statement read to the court after the verdict, Adams' daughter, Marie Colleen Adams, said it took years for her to realise her mother loved her and did not choose to abandon her.

"I believed that I had been responsible for her leaving and I thought that I must be unlovable," she said.

"I thought I was living with the sins of my mother, but now I realise that they were the sins of my father.

Adams has been in prison since his arrest in September 2018 - a little more than two years.

Originally published as Husband who killed wife 'near death'

Following the confession, Adams led police to the spot in the backyard where he buried his wife’s body. Picture: Nine News
Following the confession, Adams led police to the spot in the backyard where he buried his wife’s body. Picture: Nine News


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