Pick-axe killer guilty of defensive homicide

A Victorian woman has been acquitted of murder despite hitting her partner with a pick-axe 16 times and burying him in a shallow grave. In its closing address, the prosecution argued, “You can ask yourselves, members of the jury, … was it because she was sick of him and because she could see that there was a nicer life… just along the way[?]” Her defence was that she had suffered years of abuse and was “living in a state of sustained terror”, and that she acted in self-defence. The jury returned a guilty verdict on the alternative charge of defensive homicide, under s 9AD of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic). This form of manslaughter arises when the accused believes her conduct was necessary to prevent her death or really serious injury, but “she did not have reasonable grounds for the belief”.