Tanya Hoskin jailed for 10 years for stabbing partner to death

Tanya Hoskin DCP

Tanya Hoskin, of Exmouth, has been jailed for 10 years - Credit: Devon & Cornwall Police

A drunken woman who stabbed her husband to death after a pink gin binge has been jailed for 10 years.

Tanya Hoskin killed Nigel Johnston after the frustration of spending Christmas alone with him in Covid lockdown led her to attack him.

Mr Johnston, 54, died at their home in Tennyson Way, Exmouth, on the night of December 27, 2020, about 40 minutes after Hoskin inflicted a single fatal wound to his chest. 

Hoskin, 52, was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter by a jury at Exeter Crown Court on Monday and jailed for 10 years by Judge Mr Justice Linden today. 

She also admitted four assaults on police, who she kicked and punched after being arrested.

The judge passed sentence after hearing moving personal statements from Mr Johnston’s mother Margaret Sumner and daughter April. 

Mrs Sumner wrote: "The worst thing imaginable has happened. I will always grieve. I feel it as a gaping hole in my heart that will never heal."

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His daughter told how she, her brother Stephen and sister Jade have all been devastated by the killing and she is struggling to explain to her children why they have lost their grandfather. 

She wrote: "Hoskin has stolen so much from us. I don’t know how I will ever get through Christmas again without sadness." 

The judge told her there was no element of self-defence in the killing, which was more the result of drunken frustration that her mental illness. 

He told her: "This is a case in which you were drunk and angry and frustrated with him. It had built up over many months and it led you to stab him when you could easily have walked away. 

"He had not done anything to deserve his untimely death at your hands. No sentence I pass will bring him back or bring comfort to his family.

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"You found the lockdown over Christmas a period of frustration in which you became irritated by him. The attack on him was sudden and unexpected. He had no opportunity to defend himself.

"He said that he did not blame you. I reject the suggestion that this referred to anything he had done. He was very drunk and may have had an inkling he was dying and was trying to comfort you.

"I cannot be sure he did not make some movement towards you, but he did nothing that came close to you stabbing him. The use of the knife was wholly unwarranted and grossly disproportionate.

"I accept there was no planning or premeditation. You picked up the knife from the surface and in the kitchen and acted in the moment.

"You regretted your action as soon as you appreciated the enormity of what you had done. I accept you are remorseful, but that did not stop you from trying to blame him for what happened." 

During the trial, former holiday park worker Hoskin claimed she was acting in self-defence and was hyper-vigilant because of a lifetime of domestic abuse, including at the hands of Mr Johnston. 

Tennyson Way Exmouth GSV 1

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

There were two unique features of the case. The first was a recording she made just before the stabbing, in which she prompted Mr Johnston to admit that he had strangled her repeatedly in the past. 

The second was the fact that she carried out the killing in the course of a phone call to her sister, who heard Mr Johnson tell her to ‘behave’ just before the attack. 

She then heard the sound of a knife being tapped on a worktop followed by Mr Johnston saying he was bleeding. His final words were ‘It is all right, I don’t blame you’.

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 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. 

Michael Turner QC, defending, said the sentence should be reduced because there was an element of self defence in her actions and she was suffering from complex post-traumatic stress disorder and emotionally unstable personality disorder at the time.