A woman has been jailed for 10 years after stabbing her partner to death during a lockdown argument in Exmouth.
Tanya Hoskin, 52, was shielding at home with her partner Nigel Johnston on December 27, 2020, when she plunged a kitchen knife into his chest.
The 54-year-old collapsed in the kitchen and died of a single deep wound.
His final words to her were 'oh no, I'm bleeding', 'I'll be all right' and 'I don't blame you'.
Hoskin - a former cafe and holiday parker - denied murder and was cleared following a trial at Exeter Crown Court. She was found guilty of manslaughter.
She also admitted four charges of assaulting a police officer after being verbally and physically abusive towards police on the night of the killing.
Judge Mr Justice Linden sentenced her to 10 years in prison.
The couple had known each other since 1987 and married two years later in 1989. Their relationship ended in the early 1990s but they got back together in 2014, after Mr Johnston's second marriage ended.
In a note, Hoskin described Mr Johnston as her soulmate and apologised for causing her loved-ones "so much pain".
The attack happened after the couple had spent the day drinking together at their home in Tennyson Way.
The judge said Hoskin was "drunk and angry" when a build up of frustration about their life together saw her stab Mr Johnston when she could have "easily" walked away.
Much of the trial focused on Hoskin's character and mental health and whether Mr Johnston was violent and posed a threat to her at the time he was killed.
Forensic psychiatrist Dr Bradley Hillier assessed Hoskin and said she suffered from Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder.
A person with these conditions constantly experiences a heightened state of being under threat. They can be harmful to themselves and others due to ‘hypervigilance’ and a ‘startled response’.
Mr Michael Turner QC, mitigating, said evidence heard at trial showed Mr Johnston had been physically abusive to Hoskin during their relationship and said she may have reacted because of violence shown in the past.
But during sentencing, Mr Justice Linden said it was not a case where Hoskin had overreacted to a threat of violence by Mr Johnston.
He said: "I do not accept self-defence or mental disorders significantly reduce you responsibility for what happened.
"I'm sure Mr Johnston had no opportunity at all to defend himself or was incapable of doing so."
The judge said it was clear Mr Johnston did not do anything which came close to Hoskin being able to justify stabbing him, saying she was more than capable of repelling any movement from him.
"This is not a case where you were driven to the edge by the abusive behaviour of Mr Johnston, rather you were frustrated with him and your circumstances more generally."
He added: "I accept there was no pre-planning.
"You picked up the knife and acted in the moment. You regretted your actions as soon as it was apparent the enormity or what you had done and were anxious to do what you could to save Mr Johnston's life."
How the incident unfolded
During the trial, the jury was played a recording where the pair had a drunken, rambling argument involving a 'zombie apocalypse'. Hoskin asked Mr Johnston if he would protect her and said she would leave with the first zombie that asked her to.
She could be heard slapping drunken Mr Johnston and goading him about ‘not being man enough’. She also asked him why he sometimes grabbed her around the throat and put her in a ‘sleeper hold’.
Shortly before the stabbing, Hoskin sent a message to her sister in Exeter saying Nigel was 'getting on my last nerve' and he was 'freaking out' as well as saying ‘my brain is hurting'.
After growing concerned while on the phone, her sister called 999. Paramedics arrived quickly but could not save Mr Johnston who suffered massive internal bleeding.
After running to a neighbour's house for help, Hoskin returned to try to revive Mr Johnston and cradled him as he died.
She was heard to say: "Don't leave me, I love you. You've got the children. It will be okay."
When police arrived a short time later she told them: “I stabbed him. He was going for me. He attacked me first. I attacked him back, there you go."