Exmouth woman stabbed partner to death in Christmas row, court hears

Tennyson Way Exmouth GSV

The stabbing occurred at a property in Tennyson Way, Exmouth - Credit: Google Street View

A woman allegedly stabbed her husband to death while she was phoning her sister to tell her that she was fed up with him, a court has heard.

Tanya Hoskin killed partner Nigel Johnson with three wounds to his chest after the tension of spending Christmas 2020 together in lockdown led to a drunken argument.

She was in the middle of a call to her sister Candy Hutchings at the time, who heard Mr Johnson say he was bleeding.

The phone call to her sister followed a WhatsApp message in which Hoskin said: "I’m on my last nerves, I’m freaking out, my brain is hurting."

The stabbing happened on December 27, 2020, after the couple had been forced to spend Christmas at home together because he was shielding from Covid.

Hoskin recorded an argument between them shortly before the fatal incident, in which she could be heard berating him and telling him to 'man up', Exeter Crown Court was told.

Hoskin, 52, and Mr Johnson, 55, were living together at his home in Exmouth and she was registered as his carer.

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They had been married in the early 1990s, split up in 1993, but resumed their relationship in 2014 after their son Stephen reintroduced them.

They had shared most of a bottle of pink gin on the night of the killing and Hoskin was said to have been drunk and aggressive when she was arrested.

Hoskin, of Tennyson Way, Exmouth, denies murder. 

She says the stabbing was an accident or that she was acting in self-defence and told police after her arrest that Mr Johnson 'went for her'.

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

She said she made no mention of acting in self defence when she told a 999 operator and a neighbour that she had stabbed him on the night of the killing.

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.

"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 Johnson."

Miss Vigars said Mr Johnson was described by those who knew him as placid and neighbours who heard arguments through the walls considered Hoskin to be the aggressor.

She said the couple met in 1987, married and had two children but split up in 1993 and remained apart for more than 20 years until she moved back into his home.

On the night of the killing, they had shared a bottle of wine and most of a bottle of pink gin. She recorded a 16-minute argument between them on her phone which ended at 8.46pm.

The recording included a bizarre discussion about a Zombie Apocalypse in which she taunted him that she would leave him for the first Zombie to come into the house.

There were also sounds of her slapping or hitting him.

She was on the phone to her sister Candy Hutchings at the moment of the killing, just before 9.10pm.

Miss Vigars said Hoskin’s sister heard the moment of the stabbing but nothing to suggest any violence on Mr Johnson’s part, other than Hoskin saying he had tried to bite her.

She 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 Johnson was not attacking her."

Hoskin called 999 she had just stabbed someone three times in the heart. She went to get help from a neighbour and told her 'I have stabbed him'.

Hoskin told police at the scene he went for her but later said in interview that he had never been violent towards her.

Mr Johnson suffered three stab wounds which were 20 to 30 centimetres deep, one of which cut the portal vein inside his body and let to unsurvivable loss of blood. Paramedics tried to carry out open heart surgery at the scene but it was too late.

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 Johnson’s death."

The trial continues.