Woman jailed for murder of mother-in-law

GUILTY: Janelle Amanda Holl took turns hitting her mother-in-law with the back of an axe along with her husband.
GUILTY: Janelle Amanda Holl took turns hitting her mother-in-law with the back of an axe along with her husband.
A 28-year-old woman has been sentenced to a minimum of 13 years and seven months’ in prison for her part in the brutal axe-murder of her mother-in-law.

Janelle Amanda Holl remained emotionless in the dock at the High Court in Blenheim this morning, including when the daughter of her victim read aloud the impacts her offending had had on her.

Katie Holl, 19, said life without her mother Robyn Grace, who was brutally murdered by her son David Adrian Holl, 21, and Janelle Holl last year, had been ‘‘extremely difficult’’.

‘‘Since this happened I’m now on the sickness benefit because at times I get depressed,’’ she said.

‘‘I miss not being able to see my mum and I know the pain will never go away ... I feel very angry at Janelle and I will never forgive her.’’

Katie Holl said she had trouble sleeping, felt very sad, and often wondered if life would ever improve.

‘‘My mum won’t be at my 21st now, or watch me get married or have children because she was murdered.’’

In sentencing Janelle Holl, Justice David Collins said she had ‘‘actively participated’’ in the murder of Grace, who was killed by multiple blunt force injuries.

The most significant injury had punctured her heart and lung.

Janelle Holl admitted administering the first blow with the blunt end of the axe to Grace’s forehead, which she had demonstrated in her police interview, Collins said.

‘‘Your demonstration was frank, unemotive, and disturbing,’’ he said.

Janelle and David moved to Picton on January 5 last year with the intention of staying with Grace temporarily.
Tensions developed and on January 13 Grace told the pair they had to move out.

She said she was looking for alternative accomodation for the couple, before going out for about an hour.

David Holl then told Janelle Holl that he was going to kill Grace when she returned, dismember her body and burn it in the fire place.

Janelle Holl told police David ‘‘kind of asked me to help him, but I wanted to help him,’’.

When Grace got home, David Holl grabbed her and dragged her to the lounge where the couple took turns in striking her with the axe, before dragging her to the bathroom.

There they continued to strike her until she was dead.

Janelle told police it had taken ‘‘a long time, maybe five to 10 minutes for her to stop breathing’’, Collins said. Grace was found to have 35 wounds from the axe.

The court this morning heard that Janelle Holl had a history of mental illness, which could not be ruled out as a factor in her offending.

Collins accepted David Holl had planned the murder, but said Janelle Holl had been present during the planning, and had been an equal participant in the murder.

He sentenced her to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 13 years and seven months. She was also subjected to the three-strikes law.

The Marlborough Express