Woman who stabbed partner, dumped body in compost jailed

Ryan Boswell
Source: 1News

A Christchurch woman who claims she "accidentally manslaughtered" her partner before dumping his body in the backyard has been sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum period of 13 years and nine months.

Rena Joyce

Rena Joyce was found guilty of murdering Martin Berry at a High Court trial in March this year. She stabbed him nine times, cut his throat, and then dragged his body to the compost heap where he was covered in rotting vegetation.

She only stopped the attack when the knife became stuck, and she did not seek help to save his life.

Berry’s body was discovered two weeks later after Joyce told police she "accidentally manslaughtered" him.

The jury heard that the couple had argued about drugs and alcohol in the lead up to the fatal altercation. Joyce had a number of convictions for assaulting Berry and had spent time in prison. There was also a protection order in place in favour of Berry when the killing happened.

"When asked how did she “accidentally stab him nine times" Joyce responded: "I don’t know".

Justice Jonathan Eaton said the murder as “disturbing” and Joyce demonstrated "a high level of cruelty".

He said Berry was vulnerable and had told friends and family that he was scared for his safety when with Joyce.

Justice Eaton said there was little remorse shown by Joyce, and he did "not accept that you’ve embraced the magnitude of what you’ve done".

Today Berry’s sister Joanna Statham read a victim impact statement, which described her brother as a "kind, gentle" man who was at peace in his garden.

She said the murder was the most distressing thing to happen to their small family. His mother was never told what had happened to her son before she died last month.

"Our mum loved Martin with all her heart … Martin was her world," said Statham.

She looked at Joyce when she said "Rena you murdered the only person who really loved you … you destroyed any chance of happiness".

"Everyday you’ll have to remember that you stole a life from a kind, humble person … it was senseless," she said.