Lucille Sarah Scollay has been jailed for six years for manslaughter for stabbing her husband to death in a "moment of madness" when their 20-year marriage reached breaking point.
She took the pronouncement of the jail term calmly in the High Court in Christchurch today, a month after a jury found her not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter at her three-day trial.
Scollay, 45, had indicated at the start of the trial that she was willing to plead guilty to the manslaughter of Guy Christian Scollay. That led to a reduction of the sentence imposed by Justice Cameron Mander.
Justice Mander said the family could take pride in the bearing of the couple's son, 20-year-old Louis Scollay, who had conducted himself with dignity and maturity throughout the proceedings.
The judge told Scollay: "Despite your actions, he has forgiven you."
The trial heard of a life of depression and misery for the couple and that Scollay had been out socialising and was upset about her situation when she returned to the Christchurch home early on February 10 last year.
Prosecutor Catherine Butchard said it was up to the judge to decide exactly "where the culpability lies", but the Crown and defence were far apart in the sentences they were suggesting.
She said the Crown believed it was a case of intentional harm, and Scollay had said she had decided to stab her husband as she was walking up the driveway to their house that night.
The defence said it was an act of impulsivity and desperation, and the knife had been used for emphasis rather than lethal intent, but the Crown said that was contrary to her actions.
Defence counsel Rupert Glover said it was a tragic case. It was not a wilful, premeditated act.
"She was very upset when she left the car and walked up the driveway determined that things had to change," he said.
"She was determined to go to the kitchen and get a knife to try to drive home to her husband that things had reached snapping point after 20 years of misery and depression."
He appealed for the court to grant mercy. "If ever there was an occasion when that mercy should be exercised, it is today."
Justice Mander told Scollay that Glover had described Guy Scollay's as a "nothing life" in his address to the jury, but "his life is as precious as everyone else's".
The couple had been drug users, and Guy Scollay's health and wellbeing had deteriorated many years before.
Scollay's distress after the stabbing – she called for help and tried to staunch the bleeding as her husband lay in his bed – had been captured in recordings of the emergency calls and her police interview.
She had still loved her husband and felt she could not leave him, the judge said. "This predicament led to the crisis that culminated in the killing of Mr Scollay."
Her admission that she had decided to stab him while she was walking up the driveway led to the inevitable conclusion that she intended to cause him harm. She wanted him to take her seriously, see the knife and realise how miserable she was.
She told police: "I did it and it was just too easy."
The court heard that the force required would have been no more than an average punch.
Scollay described the stabbing, in which the knife went deep into her husband's chest, penetrating his heart, as "a moment of madness".
The judge reduced her sentence because of her remorse, her acceptance of responsibility and because of her offer to plead guilty to manslaughter – the jury's eventual verdict.
- Fairfax Media