An Exmouth woman who stabbed and killed her ‘soulmate’ husband in a drunken row has been jailed for 10 years after she was found guilty of manslaughter.
Tanya Hoskin, aged 52, of Tennyson Way, Brixington, Exmouth, denied murdering husband Nigel Johnston, 54, on the night of night of December 27, 2020.
She was jailed at Exeter Crown Court on Tuesday (March 1) after a jury found her not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter based on evidence presented at a trial lasting more than a fortnight.
In passing sentence, The Honourable Mr Justice Linden said he believed Hoskin carried out an unlawful act intended to cause harm, carrying out a ‘sudden and unexpected’ attack where Mr Johnston had no opportunity to defend himself.
He dismissed Hoskin’s claims she acted in self defence or that her actions were driven by her ongoing mental health issues.
The Judge said: “What’s clear to me is that Mr Johnston did not do anything to justify you stabbing him.
He said: I do not accept self-defence or mental disorders significantly reduce your responsibility for what happened.
“I’m sure Mr Johnston had no opportunity at all to defend himself, or was capable of doing so.
He added: “This is not a case where you were driven to the edge by the abusive behaviour of Mr Johnston, rather you were frustrated with him and your circumstances more generally.
Mr Justice Linden said: “I accept there was no pre-planning. You picked up the knife and acted in the moment. You regretted your actions as soon as it was apparent the enormity of what you had done and were anxious to do what you could to save Mr Johnston’s life.”
He said Hoskin, who was her husband’s paid carer, was drunk and angry, with a build-up of months of frustration, which led her to stab him in the chest with a kitchen knife.
The Judge said she could easily have walked away on the night of the attack.
Hoskin apologised to Mr Johnston’s family and friends in a note read to the court.
She said: “I have lost my family and our home. I took his life. He was my soulmate, a son, father and grandfather. I am sorry I put his friends and family through so much pain.”
In statements read to the court Mr Johnston’s mother said her son’s death left her with ‘dark and frightening’ dreams and on medication, adding ‘I feel it as a gaping hole in my heart. It will never heal.’
His children spoke of their ‘grief and anger’, saying Hoskin had ‘stolen’ Mr Johnston from them without giving them a chance to say goodbye.
They said: “We feel he was taken too soon from us by her act of violence.”
Hoskin killed her husband while she was on the telephone to her sister, tapping a large carving knife against a kitchen surface which she plunged deep into his chest, severing his portal vein so he could not be saved.
As he lay dying in the couple’s kitchen he could be heard saying ‘I don’t blame you’ to Hoskin, reassuring his wife everything was going to be okay.
Hoskin and Mr Johnston had been drinking pink gin in the hours before the stabbing, bringing a mattress downstairs into then lounge to ‘chill’ and watch movies.
Hoskin said she cannot remember what happened on the night of the killing, putting her memory loss down to complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD).
Health professionals linked the memory loss to earlier abuse in childhood, leaving Hoskin emotionally cut-off, confirming it could be triggered by stress and a ‘heightened state of feeling under threat’.
Neighbours and family described Hoskin as short-tempered, volatile and ‘feisty’. She was regularly heard shouting at her husband, calling him ‘f***ing useless’ and a f***ing wuss’, telling him to ‘man up’, and slapping him.
She admitted shouting at Mr Johnston, yelling ‘until I was blue in the face’, telling the jury he was lazy around the house.
Mr Johnston, in comparison, was said to be ‘meek and quiet’, although Hoskin said the description differed in reality.
Friends of Mr Johnston said he was ‘funny, annoying, pernickety’, describing him as ‘a nice bloke who had his demons to deal with’,
The court was told Hoskin killed her partner after the tension of spending Christmas 2020 together in lockdown when Mr Johnston was shielding.
They 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 sister 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’.
Hoskin, who received money for being Mr Johnston’s carer, told the court how her husband had previously abused her verbally, often strangling her until she passed out if she disagreed with him.
The jury heard a recording made by Hoskin in the hours before she stabbed her husband, where she initiated a conversation and he was heard admitting he strangled her.