Woman guilty of manslaughter after stabbing her partner in Exmouth

Tennyson Way Exmouth GSV 1

The stabbing happened at a house in Tennyson Way, Exmouth - Credit: Google Street View

A woman who stabbed her husband to death during a post-Christmas argument has been cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter.

Tanya Hoskin killed Nigel Johnson with a single wound to his chest which penetrated 22 centimetres through his body and severed a major blood vessel.

She was acquitted of murder after telling a jury she had suffered years of abuse at his hands and had often been asphyxiated to the point of unconsciousness by him.

Former holiday camp worker Hoskin had a range of psychiatric issues arising from being raped as a teenager and being assaulted by a succession of partners.

She killed Mr Johnson at the home they shared in Exmouth on the night of December 27 just minutes after she recorded him admitting to domestic violence in a bizarre conversation which she recorded secretly on her mobile phone.

Hoskin and Mr Johnston then went into the kitchen, where she was on the phone to her sister Candy at the very moment she carried out the killing.

Her sister heard Hoskin tell him to shut up and then heard the sound of a knife being tapped on a worktop. The next thing she heard was Mr Johnston saying he was bleeding. His final words were ‘It is all right, I don’t blame you’.

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Tensions between the couple had grown to breaking point over Christmas because he suffered from a range of illnesses which forced him to shield during the third lockdown.

They had cancelled Christmas and she had complained to her family that he had a ‘bah humbug attitude to the festive season and did not want to celebrate.

Both had been drinking heavily on the night of the killing, when they originally planned to share a bottle of pink gin while watching old movies on the television.

The prosecution alleged Hoskin killed him in a moment of drunken rage while the defence said she had not intended to do so.

The jury rejected her claim to be acting in self-defence despite hearing from a psychiatrist and a psychologist that her previous experiences of abuse had left her hyper-sensitive to threats of any sort.

Hoskin, 52, of Tennyson Way, Exmouth, denied murder and was found not guilty by a jury at Exeter Crown Court after three and a half days of deliberation. She was convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Judge Mr Justice Linden adjourned sentence until Tuesday March 1 and asked the prosecution and defence to submit written notes to help him decide on sentence.

During the trial, the jury heard how the couple met in 1987, married and had two children but split up in 1993 and remained apart for more than 20 years.

He remarried but divorced in 2014 and their children, now adults, put them back in touch with each other. They got on well initially and she moved back into his home.

The relationship appeared normal from the outside but neighbours said they heard her raising her voice at him on occasions, but no evidence of him being aggressive.

Hoskin said he was a controlling character who would put her into what he called a ‘sleeper hold’ if she went against his wishes. This consisted of putting his arm around her neck and squeezing until she could not breathe.

In the recorded conversation on the night of the killing, he also admitted that he had prevented her leaving the house on many occasions.

The recording was strange because it included Hoskin asking drunkenly whether he would protect her if there was a ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ and her saying she would be out of the door with the first zombie to come into the house.

She had also sent a text to her sister which said ‘I’m on my last nerves, he’s freaking out, my brain is hurting’.

Hoskin was recorded on police bodycam trying to revive Mr Johnston at the scene and on CCTV at the custody centre assaulting police.

She gave an interview the next day in which she told officers he had never been violent to her, but later told the jury she had no memory of the killing or the interview.

A consultant psychiatrist told the jury Hoskin had complex post-traumatic stress disorder and emotionally unstable personality disorder.

Dr Bradley Hillier, a consultant forensic psychiatrist who has worked at Broadmoor, said it was clear from Hoskin’s background that she suffered from CPTSD and EUPD.

He said the two conditions explain her response on the night of the killing and her subsequent inability to remember what she had done.