Murder accused was suffering 'mental disorders' at time of stabbing, court told

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 was suffering from mental disorders which arose from a lifetime of abuse, a jury has been told.

A consultant psychiatrist said Tanya Hoskin had complex post-traumatic stress disorder and emotionally unstable personality disorder at the time of the killing.

Hoskin stabbed her partner Nigel Johnston in the kitchen of their home in Exmouth two nights after they had spent Christmas in lockdown together in 2020.

She told Exeter Crown Court earlier this week that she has suffered years of violence from Mr Johnston, who regularly throttled her to the point of unconsciousness during arguments.

Hoskin also told the jury she had been raped at the age of 15 and suffered physical abuse from other previous partners.

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 made her like a ‘wobbly ship’ which was less able to weather a storm than one with a deeper keel.

Most Read

He said they explained 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 telling police in an interview the next day that Mr Johnston had never been violent towards her.

Hoskin, 52, of Tennyson Way, Exmouth, denies murder. She says she was acting in self-defence or the stabbing was an accident.

READ MORE: Stabbing victim was 'violent and controlling', court told
READ MORE: 'Zombie Apocalypse' row before stabbing, murder trial hears 

READ MORE: Exmouth woman stabbed partner in Christmas row, court told
READ MORE: 'I don't blame you': Jury hears stabbing victim's last words
READ MORE: Stabbing victim died of single stab wound, court hears

The prosecution say she killed 55-year-old Mr Johnston in a drunken rage at around 9pm on December 27, 2020, at a time when she was on the phone to her sister Candy.

They say Candy heard nothing in the call to make her think Mr Johnston had tried to attack Hoskin.

Dr Hillier told the jury that he had interviewed Hoskin for two and a half hours and found evidence in her previous medical notes to confirm his diagnoses of CPTSD and EUPD. He also found she was depressed and had a borderline personality disorder.

He said consultation notes dating back to 2016 showed she had experienced previous episodes of a phenomenon called dissociation, in which patients' perceptions are distorted.

He said the combination of her disorders meant she may have over-estimated the threat posed to her and over-reacted at the time of the killing, a process known technically as hyper-vigilance.

He said: "People with personality disorder are like wobbly ships, particularly if there is a storm. They react in much more extreme and unhelpful ways. 

"They don’t cope with stress in the same way as people who are without the disorders can.

"I was able to draw a picture of Hoskin's life experiences. There was childhood sexual abuse leading her to turn to substances to cope. There was violence in relationships, which is confirmed by medical records.

"Her behaviour and emotional state are consistent with complex PTSD and EUPD. With people in this state, it can mean their perception of threat can be over-heightened.

"Similarly, because of their heightened fight or flight reaction, the response to threat can be disproportionate."