Woman jailed for stabbing murder

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A woman has been jailed for life after she was convicted of murdering her partner in Whitby.

Rebecca Dormer stabbed Gareth Matthews in the chest with a kitchen knife during a row and it went through the heart into his liver.

She had admitted manslaughter but the jury at Leeds Crown Court unanimously found her guilty yesterday of murdering the 32-year-old in February.

Jailing her for life the Recorder of Leeds, Judge Peter Collier QC told her she must serve a minimum of 16 years.

He said: “Late on Friday 22 February this year in the flat you shared with your partner you and he got into a heated argument. You have no recollection of 
what happened and he is now dead.

“In the course of that you picked up a kitchen knife with a seven and a half-inch blade and stabbed him in the chest it transected the cartilage of a rib before cutting through the apex of the heart and ending in the liver”.

He said the knife was a “very sharp lethal weapon.”

Mr Matthews died from massive blood loss at the flat in Springhill Court, Whitby, where she was found by police trying to help him by pressing socks to the wound.

The judge said Dormer had denied intending to harm Mr Matthews and it was agreed she suffered from a personality disorder but the jury had rejected that amounted to diminished responsibility.

While it did not amount to a defence it did reduce her culpability to some extent.

There was also a history of violence between the couple by both parties.

The judge said CCTV of her admission to the police station also showed how drunk she had been that night.

He told her: “It is clear at the present time when you have taken drink you can be a dangerous person.”

He had read a moving statement from Mr Matthews’s father about the “devastation the loss of Gareth had caused to family members, particularly his nine-year-old nephew”.

Paul Greaney QC, defending, Dormer, told the judge after the verdict that she had not intended to cause serious harm and “this was likely to have been a sudden explosion of violence”.

She had immediately sought to help Mr Matthews and summoned help for him. “She is deeply remorseful for what she has done.”

Dormer told the jury she did not remember stabbing him and was in shock and panic when she realised what she had done.

The court heard Dormer and Mr Matthews had been facing an allegation of wounding with intent and that was ordered to lie on file in view of the sentence.

After the case Det Chief Insp Keith Ruff said: “This was a deeply tragic incident which has profoundly affected the families of both Gareth Matthews and Rebecca Dormer.”

“Obviously there was an enduring four-year relationship, often involving volatility and alcohol being a factor resulting in the tragic events of 22 February where Rebecca Dormer deliberately stabbed Mr Matthews with a kitchen knife.”

“The family of Gareth Matthews are struggling to come to terms with the circumstances but it is my hope that the outcome of these proceedings will provide them with some comfort and enable them to start rebuilding their lives.”

He added: “I also want to pass on my thanks to the people of Whitby for their outstanding support and assistance to the investigation team throughout this case. The community spirit and genuine care displayed by residents is a credit to the town.

Gareth’s father, John Matthews, said on behalf of the family: “Not only have we have lost a son, brother and an uncle, we have also lost a best friend.”