'Zombie apocalypse' argument before fatal stabbing, court hears

Tennyson Way Exmouth GSV 1

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

A woman who stabbed her partner to death two days after Christmas had complained to her family that he had a ‘bah humbug’ attitude to the festive season.

Tanya Hoskin killed 55-year-old Nigel Johnston with a single blow to his chest with a kitchen knife after they had both spent the evening of December 27, 2020, drinking wine and pink gin.

The couple had spent Christmas in lockdown at their Exmouth home because he had long-standing health problems and was shielding.

Hoskin, 52, made arrangements with their children, stepchildren and grandparents to pick up or deliver presents, but they were not able to have a normal family Christmas.

She told her family he did not like Christmas and considered it over-commercialised. They had no tree or decorations and one grandchild asked whether Santa did not visit Grandpa.

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

The jury has been told the couple had a bizarre argument shortly before the killing, in which she berated him for not being man enough to protect her from a Zombie Apocalypse.

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She was on the phone to her sister Candy Hutchings at the moment of the killing and there were no sounds of a struggle before he was heard saying he was bleeding.

Mr Johnston's stepdaughter, Jade, told Exeter Crown Court she spoke to Hoskin before Christmas and arranged to exchange presents.

She said: "Tanya told me she was not putting up Christmas decorations because they were only for the grandchildren anyway and she was not doing it for dad because he was Bah Humbug about Christmas."

She said one of her children referred to Mr Johnstone as Grandpa Grumps, but that it was an affectionate nickname.

Mr Johnston's natural daughter April said Hoskin was a volatile person who 'definitely had a temper'. She said Mr Johnston adored his grandchildren and put them on a pedestal.

His son Stephen said he and his two children, aged four and six, had a close relationship with Mr Johnston but had to communicate by Facetime once Covid started as he was forced to shield.

He said he last saw Mr Johnston on a Facetime call about five hours before the stabbing, in which Hoskin held the phone and Mr Johnstone was sat in the background.

He said: "When he spoke it all seemed very final. He asked if me and my partner were getting married and for some reason that seemed out of character.

"When I acknowledged my father in the phone call, Tanya became quite aggressive, taking the phone off him and swearing and telling him to f*** off and go away and sit down.

"She didn't seem over-happy with him but he seemed okay."

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Samantha Bickle, who was married to Mr Johnston after he broke up with Hoskin for the first time and before they resumed their relationship in 2014, said they had been happy together until he became ill.

She said he worked in a bar at the Sandy Bay holiday park before having to give up work. She said he could be lazy at home and she had to do all the housework.

The trial continues.