Trial begins of Exmouth woman accused of murdering her husband after drunken argument

The trial has begun of an Exmouth woman accused of murdering her husband after he died with stab wounds following a drunken argument.

Tanya Hoskin, aged 52, of Tennyson Way, Brixington, Exmouth, standing at Exeter Crown Court, has denied murdering partner Nigel Johnston on the night of December 27, 2020.

The court heard Mr Johnston was found with three stab wounds to the chest, which Hoskin said was an accident – telling police who arrested her she was acting in self-defence because her husband ‘went for her’.

Miss Anna Vigars, QC, prosecuting, said the killing was a deliberate act, even if Hoskin may have regretted it immediately.

She told the court Hoskin did not mention any self-defence when she called 999 and spoke to an operator on the night of the killing, or when she told a neighbour she had stabbed Mr Johnston.

Miss Vigars said: “Our position is that this was not an accident. The stabbing to the chest was quite deliberate. As soon as she had done it, she may have wished she had not and that her partner was alive again.

“That regret does not mean this was an accident. If you stab someone through the chest and heart with a large knife, the act is deliberate and the intent was to kill or at the very least to cause really serious harm.”

She told the jury: “You will have to consider if she was defending herself. There was nothing happening in the kitchen that could possibly have justified the use of that large knife to stab Mr Johnston.”

The court was told Tanya Hoskin killed her partner after the tension of spending Christmas 2020 together in lockdown when Mr Johnston was shielding.

Hoskin and Mr Johnston, aged 55, had a drunken argument while they were living together at his home in Exmouth. She was his registered carer.

They had shared most of a bottle of pink gin and a bottle of wine on the night of the killing, which led to a drunken row.

The defendant was said to have been drunk and aggressive when police arrested her.

The court was told Hoskin sent a WhatsApp message to her sister complaining about Mr Johnston, saying ‘I’m on my last nerves, I’m freaking out, my brain is hurting’.

The jury was told Hoskin recorded a 16-minute argument between the couple on her phone which ended at 8.46 pm. And there were sounds of her slapping or hitting Mr Johnston, telling him to ‘man up’.

The prosecution said Hoskin was on the phone to her sister at the moment of the killing, just before 9.10 pm.

Hoskin’s sister heard the stabbing, and Mr Johnston say he was bleeding, but no violence from him – although the defendant said he had tried to bite her.

Miss Vigars said: “It is important to think about what was going on. Hoskin now says she cannot remember.

“Her sister’s evidence suggests that at the moment of the stabbing, Mr Johnston was not attacking her.”

Miss Vigars said: “It is clear she would have been affected by alcohol. We say this was not self-defence. There was one knife and only one knife on the kitchen floor and there was no suggestion of any attack in the phone call to her sister.

“The evidence is that he could be silly and annoying but was generally placid and calm while she was heard by neighbours to be argumentative and domineering.

“On that night they had both had a lot to drink. There was a low-level argument to which she completely over-reacted. It may well not have happened but for the wine and pink gin; but it was not an accident.

“It was a deliberate stabbing with a large kitchen knife with the sadly obvious consequence of Mr Johnston’s death.”

Hoskin called 999 and told the call operator she had just stabbed someone three times in the heart.

The court heard she went to get help from a neighbour and told her ‘I have stabbed him’.

When the police arrived Hoskin said her husband had gone for her but when interviewed later she said he had never been violent towards her.

Mr Johnston suffered three stab wounds which were 20 to 30 centimetres deep.

One of the stab wounds led to un-survivable blood loss after it cut the portal vein.

Paramedics tried to carry out open heart surgery at the scene but Mr Johnston could not be saved.

Hoskin and Mr Johnston, who met in 1918, married in the early 1990s and went on to have two children. They split up in 1993.

They got back together more than 20 years later in 2014 after their son reintroduced them and Hoskin moved back into Mr Johnston’s home.

Mr Johnston was described as placid by those who knew him, the court was told.

Neighbours who heard arguments through the walls of the couple’s home said Hoskin was the antagonistic one.

The trial continues.

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