Jury retires in Tanya Hoskin murder trial

Tennyson Way Exmouth GSV 1

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

A jury has retired to consider a verdict in the case of a woman on trial for stabbing her partner to death two days after Christmas. 

Tanya Hoskin denies murdering Nigel Johnston at their home in Exmouth on December 27, 2020, and the jury at Exeter Crown Court has been told she was acting in self-defence. 

Judge Mr Justice Linden sent the jury out to start deliberating on Tuesday afternoon and told them they have as much time as they want and must seek a unanimous verdict.

Hoskin, 52, of Tennyson Way, Exmouth, denies the murder of 55-year-old Mr Johnston.

During a two-week trial, the prosecution alleged she killed him in a drunken rage in which she stabbed him once in the chest. He died from internal bleeding after the kitchen knife went 23 centimetres into his body and severed a major artery. 

Hoskin was on the phone to her sister Candy at the very moment of the killing and she gave evidence that she heard a clinking sound similar to a knife being tapped on a kitchen counter moments before.

Candy also told the jury that she heard Mr Johnson say he was bleeding but trying to reassure Hoskin that he was all right. His final words were ‘It is all right, I don’t blame you’. 

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She also heard Hoskin say, ‘Oh my God, open your eyes, count with me, stay with me, Nigel, please open your eyes'.

The prosecution played the jury a video-taped police interview with Hoskin given the next day in which she said Mr Johnston had never been violent towards her.

Neighbours have also given evidence that they had heard her shouting at him but never heard anything to suggest he was violent towards her.

Hoskin gave evidence that she had been raped when she was 15, experienced domestic violence from a succession of partners, including Johnston. She said he regularly throttled her to the point of passing out in what he called a sleeper hold.

She told the court she had no memory of the killing itself or of the police interview the next day. 

A consultant psychiatrist gave evidence that her experiences of abuse had left her with complex post traumatic stress disorder and emotionally unstable personality disorder.

Dr Bradley Hillier said the two conditions made her like a ‘wobbly ship’ which was less able to weather a storm than one with a deeper keel and made her more aware of threats of violence.

He said they explain why her response on the night of the killing and her subsequent inability to remember what she had done. It also explained why she had no memory of the police interview.