Exmouth: Son pays tribute to ‘good and kind man’ and hopes for closure after dad’s killer is jailed

The family of an Exmouth man stabbed to death by his wife in a drunken row have paid tribute to a ‘a good and kind man’.

Nigel Johnston, 54, was killed by his partner Tanya Hoskin, aged 52, of Tennyson Way, Brixington, Exmouth, on the night of night of December 27, 2020, after she plunged a knife into his chest.

Hoskin 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.

Nigel’s son, Stephen Johnston, thanked Devon and Cornwall Police for bringing Hoskin to justice, saying the jail sentence would help his family reach ‘some form of closure’.

He said the police ‘worked tirelessly, going above and beyond’ to bring the case to court, describing it as ‘a very long road’ to justice.

In a statement released by Stephen after Hoskin was jailed for 10 years by The Honourable Mr Justice Linden, Mr Johnston’s son said: “Dad was always loved by his family and friends.

“He was a kind man who could be reserved at times, but he would give someone the shirt off his back if they needed it.

“Whether he was our father, son, grandfather or friend he left a lasting and positive impression on all of us. While unfortunately all we have left are memories, they are varied and full of love. He may have not been perfect, but he was certainly a good man.

“We cannot change what happened that day. My family and I have lost someone we all held very dear to us and the last 14 months or so are something nobody should have to go through.

“It has been however, with the support of each other, and a commitment to just improving each and every day that we got through this and will continue to heal.”

He added: “You never forget the loss of a loved one just know that there is always someone to help and support you.”

Devon and Cornwall Police said they hoped the family would draw comfort from the outcome at court, where Hoskin was jailed for manslaughter.

Detective Sergeant Samantha Wenham, of Devon and Cornwall Police Major Crime Investigation Team, praised the bravery of witnesses who came forward to speak to police.

She said: “I would like to thank the family and witnesses for their bravery in giving evidence.

“Hoskin maintained that the killing was in self-defence and although the jury rejected this, they agreed that she had not intended to kill or seriously harm Nigel Johnston.

“This has been a very sad and tragic case and I can only hope that the family will draw comfort with the outcome.”


Tanya Hoskin was found guilty of manslaughter after killing Nigel Johnston.

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’.

The court was told Hoskin killed her partner – who she cared for full-time – after the tension of spending Christmas 2020 together in lockdown when Mr Johnston was shielding.

Prior to killing her husband, 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.

Hoskin stabbed her partner in the chest with a knife in the kitchen of their Tennyson Way home.

Mr Johnston underwent emergency surgery at the scene but died a short time later from a single deep stab wound.

Exeter Crown Court heard that Hoskin had an explosive temper and would lash out over small things ‘at the flick of a switch.’ She said she would then be unable to recall any events during such an episode of anger.

Hoskin pleaded not guilty when she appeared before the court charged with murder.

The jury concluded that Hoskin had not intended to kill or cause Mr Johnston really serious harm and she was found not guilty of murder and convicted of manslaughter.

She was also found guilty of four counts of assault on emergency workers [police officers]during her time in police custody.

At 8.55pm on December 27, 2020, a drunk Hoskin telephoned her sister claiming Mr Johnston was trying to bite her.

The sound of the fatal assault then played out over the phone.

Hoskin had picked up a large knife from the kitchen counter and attacked her partner. Her sister called 999, as did Hoskin.

Hoskin spoke with the ambulance service at 9.10pm confessing that she had stabbed Mr Johnston three times. She then raised a neighbour, shouting that she had ‘stabbed him’ and asking for her help.

Mr Johnston was found lying wounded on the kitchen floor but still alive.

The neighbour and Hoskin administered CPR; Hoskin was hysterical, saying sorry to him, telling him not to go and that she loved him.

Officers attended and found Mr Johnston lying injured. Hoskin openly told one of the officers that she had ‘stabbed him’, telling police ‘he came at her’.

Hoskin, described as ‘extremely intoxicated’ by officers, was immediately removed from the scene by police and arrested.

A doctor performed an emergency procedure on Mr Johnston on an ambulance stretcher in the street in an effort to save his life but he died at 9.50pm.

The cause of death was later determined as a single, fatal, stab wound.

In Exeter custody Hoskin repeatedly confessed to killing Mr Johnston after news was received that he had died.

While in custody she punched one officer in the face and kicked him, plus two other officers.

Exeter Crown Court was told that the couple married in 1989 but split in 1993. They reunited seven years ago and lived together; Hoskin became a carer to Mr Johnston due to his ill health.

The relationship was described as volatile with some alcohol issues, and Hoskin was said to have an explosive temper, becoming angry about small things.

In her defence the jury was told Hoskin suffered from complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, as well as the victim often placing her in a ‘sleeper hold’ in the past until she  passed out.

Exmouth woman who stabbed her ‘soulmate’ husband in a drunken row is jailed for 10 years

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