A mum from Exmouth accused of murdering her husband has told a jury how he would strangle her during arguments to ‘shut her up’, often until she fell unconscious.
Tanya Hoskin, aged 52, of Tennyson Way, Brixington, Exmouth, standing on trial at Exeter Crown Court, has denied murdering partner Nigel Johnston, aged 54, on the night of December 27, 2020.
Mum-of-three Hoskin told the court she has no memory of what happened when Mr Johnston was stabbed once in the chest with a kitchen knife at the couple’s home.
Michael Turner QC, defending, told the jury Hoskin had been previously labelled with a personality dissociative disorder by a psychiatrist, as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder, linked to abuse.
Hoskin told the court the personality dissociative disorder rendered her with memory loss which ‘automatically triggers’, causing her not to remember stressful situations.
Hoskin told the court: “I used to put myself somewhere else; that I wasn’t there. Now it automatically triggers, that’s why I don’t remember things.”
She told the jury the condition left her feeling ‘pretty cut off’ from what happened that night.
Hoskin said: “I don’t really have any emotion. I don’t even see Nigel as being dead. I still see him as being alive.”
In defence, she said she had ‘no idea at all’ how she might have stabbed Mr Johnston, and had no previous thoughts of killing or harming him.
Hoskin said: “I used to say I will kill him in a minute if he doesn’t stop, but it was just a figure of speech.”
The court heard on the night Mr Johnston died, Hoskin told police she stabbed him three times, telling officers who arrested her it was an accident and she was acting in self-defence because her husband ‘went for her’.
A recorded conversation of the pair captured in the hour before Mr Johnston was killed – played to the jury – heard him admit to strangling her ‘often’, and saying to Hoskin: “If I am wrong for it, slap me and tell me never to do it again and I won’t.”
The jury heard how Mr Johnston wanted to control Hoskin, and was recorded telling her ‘you can do what the f**k you like, no-one goes against me’.
Hoskin told the court she would ‘beg’ her husband not to put her in a ‘sleeper hold’ – causing her to become unconscious – when she went against his wishes.
She told the court how Mr Johnston would use the ‘primal hold’, also known as the ‘strangle hold’ to control her, because ‘it was easy to shut me up’.
Hoskin said Mr Johnston liked to drink alcohol but was ‘secretive’ about it and kept his fondness for booze ‘behind closed doors’.
Witnesses told the court how they heard Hoskin regularly yell and swear at Mr Johnston, call him ‘lazy’, and ‘f***ing useless’, using ‘violent’ words.
Their relationship was described in court as ‘argumentative’, with ‘aggressive’ Hoskin regularly heard shouting at her husband.
She said witnesses’ description of ‘meek and quiet’ Mr Johnston differed behind closed door and was not accurate.
Mr Johnston died as a result of a single stab wound to his chest which came out at the back of his liver, cutting through the portal vein, causing blood loss.
No evidence of any wounds were found on Mr Johnson’s arms or hands that suggested he tried to defend himself, the jury heard.
The defendant’s sister Candy Hutchings, from Exeter, told the court she was on the phone to Hoskin when she heard Mr Johnston in the background calmly say he was bleeding.
Hoskin and her husband had shared most of a bottle of pink gin on the night of the killing, which led to a drunken row.
Prior to speaking to her sister on the phone, Hoskin sent her a WhatsApp message saying: “Nigel is getting on my last nerve. I can’t stop him freaking out. He seriously needs to stop. My brain is hurting.”
Miss Anna Vigars, QC, prosecuting, said the killing was a deliberate act, even if Hoskin may have regretted it immediately.
The court was told Hoskin killed her partner – who she was a carer for – after the tension of spending Christmas 2020 together in lockdown when Mr Johnston was shielding.
The trial continues.
Witnesses tell court how Exmouth woman accused of murdering husband was frequently heard yelling ‘you’re ‘f***ing useless’ at him