A killer’s bid to get out of jail sooner has failed after a court found her moral culpability was high despite her tragic life.
Stacey Edwards was 38 when she was jailed last year for nine years, with six years and nine months non-parole, convicted of manslaughter after she stabbed her partner Michael Power in the neck in 2016.
The Court of Appeal on Wednesday agreed that was an acceptable sentence, rejecting Edwards’ argument she should serve less jail time because of violence she had experienced.
In the days leading up to the manslaughter, Edwards wanted Mr Power out of her Swan Hill house and told building contractors she wasn’t safe, the judges said.
On the day of the killing — November 22, 2016 — builders heard Edward’s telling someone to “get out”.
They heard her say: “By tonight I’ll either be in jail or dead”.
She had been on a “massive bender on drugs” and hadn’t slept in days, she told someone later that day.
About 7.44pm, she called police to tell them she was going to stab Mr Power.
By the time they got there, he was already severely injured.
She “ran towards the officers holding the knife”, was hit with OC spray and arrested.
Mr Power was transported to hospital, bleeding from the neck, and died that night.
Judges Chris Maxwell, Emilios Kyrou and Cameron Macauley found the Aboriginal woman had known “significant disadvantage”, growing up a victim of neglect and violence perpetrated by her ice-using mother.
A psychiatrist found she had complex post-traumatic stress disorder and developmental trauma disorder “as a consequence of major adversity in childhood”.
She was in her first “abusive and controlling” relationship from the age of 14 and 20, where she was “sexually exploited” and had the first of several children at age 17.
A string of dysfunctional relationships followed, the judges said.
Edwards had been in a relationship with Mr Power for a year when she killed him.
Each of them had been violent with the other, evidence showed.
But the Court of Appeal did not find fault with the original sentencing judge’s reference to materials indicating that Edwards was “most often the aggressor”.
“Your conduct towards Mr Power was observed to involve frequent verbal abuse and, at times, physical violence,” the judge said.
“It was described as controlling and overbearing, as well as financially exploitative.
“In contrast, Mr Power was described by a number of witnesses as gentle, placid and forgiving and protective of you.”
The Court of Appeal agreed methamphetamine use was a major factor in the events that night.
The sentencing judge had said to Edwards: “I accept that you carry trauma as a result of your terrible childhood and the controlling and abusive relationships that you have had with a number of men.”
“However, I consider that your offending should be characterised as taking place principally in the context of heavy methamphetamine use.
“You were strung out on drugs, you had not slept for days and your thinking was utterly disordered.”
The Court of Appeal judgment found “it was open to the judge to conclude that Edward’s moral culpability was high”.
It said the sentence was not manifestly excessive.
“While Edward’s background was an important consideration, it needed to be balanced against the seriousness of the offending,” it said.
“Her Honour assessed this as ‘a particularly serious case of manslaughter’.
“That finding was well open, in our view.”