Mercy plea after woman killed violent, abusive husband

·3-min read

For years Rebecca Payne's husband was violent and controlling, made her tattoo his name on her body 18 times and beat her in a graveyard.

Then she killed him.

But prosecutors say she could have just left.

Payne faces life behind bars after a jury found her guilty of the murder of her husband Noel Payne, who was given a fatal dose of Temazepam, laced in the icing of biscuits she gave him with a cup of Milo.

She told jurors she hadn't meant to kill him, only put him to sleep.

Afterward she wrapped his body in a blanket and stored it in a chest freezer in the backyard of their home in the remote western Victorian community of Walpeup.

It was in that community that Mr Payne created a "perverted and disturbing moral universe" in which he treated his wife as a mere object for his own pleasure, defence barrister Richard Edney told the Victorian Supreme Court on Monday.

His actions toward Payne were reprehensible and obscene, he said.

In the dock, Payne dabbed away tears with a tissue as her lawyer outlined some of the horrifying abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband while trying to raise two boys.

"You've heard evidence of him repeatedly spitting on Rebecca Payne, watching her in the shower, heard the evidence of her being taken to a graveyard near the family home and bashed," Mr Edney said.

"Rebecca had 18 tattoos of this man's name on all parts of her body."

At one point during their relationship Payne left her husband.

She returned, but in the meantime Mr Payne had moved another young woman into their home and began a sexual relationship with her.

In a statement, that woman told the court Mr Payne had made her get his name tattooed on her body five times.

The family violence she suffered could not be separated from her offending, Mr Edney said, telling Justice Rita Incerti that this was a case where Payne should be showed mercy.

But prosecutor David Glynn said claims by Mr Edney during the trial that Payne could have ended up dead if events were left to run their course were "pure speculation".

He said Payne had a car, a phone, $9000 cash and knew she could leave her husband because she had left him before, and gone back.

"This was not a woman who was helpless and unable to act," he said.

"She acted, and what she did required a significant level of planning, thought and above all, I would suggest, determination."

The murder was planned at least days or weeks in advance and involved her cooking the biscuits, grinding the tablets, putting them in the icing and then moving the body.

"It must have been ghastly to do what she did to him ... someone who isn't a psychopath - not that I'm suggesting she is one - would recoil," he said.

But he later conceded there was evidence to establish that Payne was subjected to violence and coercive control.

Justice Incerti will sentence Payne at a later date.

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