A woman has been jailed for seven-and-a-half years for killing her husband after years of violent abuse, but will be immediately eligible for parole.
Jean Louise Herholdt faced Queensland’s supreme court on Friday for sentencing over the manslaughter of Sean Murray, 35.
The 30-year-old had pleaded guilty to the charge this week, admitting to stabbing Murray once in the back at their Murrumba Downs property, north of Brisbane on 27 August 2020, after he had beaten her.
Justice Peter Davis said Murray had inflicted a long list of “appalling” acts of domestic abuse, including threats to kill Herholdt with a knife.
“There is no doubt that Mr Murray was physically violent towards you and injured you in other ways as well,” Davis said.
“However, Mr Murray had a family and he also had rights. A victim impact statement demonstrates the hurt which his family has suffered as a result of his death and of course he lost his life.
“Notwithstanding the sympathy you legitimately attract as a victim of domestic violence, the fact remains that you unlawfully killed Mr Murray.”
A CCTV camera at the property captured audio in the lead-up to the stabbing, during which Herholdt demanded Murray return a sum of hidden money.
Davis accepted that the cash was “particularly important” to Herholdt as it represented her means of escape from Murray with her children.
“That does not give lawful excuse for your offence, but in a human way it is understandable,” Davis said.
Davis accepted Herholdt did not intend to kill or cause grievous bodily harm to Murray when she stabbed him, leaving a 15cm deep wound that punctured an artery and his lung.
Once Herholdt realised the seriousness of the injury, she placed pressure on Murray’s wound.
Crown prosecutors had sought a nine-year sentence for Herholdt, on the basis she used a weapon for retaliation rather than self-defence and that the offending was witnessed by children.
Defence barrister Andrew Hoare sought immediate release, but Davis said it was the clear intention of parliament that no sentence greater than five years be suspended.
Davis accepted Herholdt had been diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder after an abusive childhood and was unlikely to reoffend.
He sentenced Herholdt to seven-and-a-half years in prison, with her parole eligibility period to start on Friday, as she has already spent 27 months in custody.
Davis imposed no further penalties for Herholdt’s guilty pleas to possessing cannabis plants and drug paraphernalia.
Herholdt could be released within the next six months if she successfully applies for parole.
In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14 and the national family violence counselling service is on 1800 737 732. In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on freephone 116 123 and the domestic abuse helpline is 0808 2000 247. In the US, the suicide prevention lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 and the domestic violence hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Other international helplines can be found via www.befrienders.org