NSW woman Wendie-Sue Dent has been sentenced to life in prison, with a non-parole period of 25 years, for poisoning her partner with prescription medication.
A South Australian Supreme Court jury found Dent guilty of murdering her partner, David Lawrence, in 2015 by giving him a fatal dose of her own medication, including morphine, at his Adelaide home on his birthday weekend.
In sentencing Dent, Justice Tim Stanley said the 62-year-old – who is appealing against the conviction – was motivated by greed.
“You exploited his attraction for your financial benefit,” Justice Stanley said.
“Ultimately you killed him for your financial gain.”
He said the murder involved some degree of pre-meditation.
Dent showed little emotion when Justice Stanley described how she preyed on Mr Lawrence’s kindness in pursuit of his money.
“Not only have you not demonstrated any contrition or remorse for your crime but you’ve compounded the grief and suffering of Mr Lawrence’s siblings by your continued pursuit of Mr Lawrence’s money,” he said.
“You did so without regard to the impact this would have on those who loved Mr Lawrence.”
The court heard Dent has a long history of opioid abuse and addiction.
“I accept in the evidence that in the aftermath of Mr Lawrence’s death you presented as a person who was to some extent disoriented,” Justice Stanley said.
“However, that evidence is insufficient to satisfy me that at the time you administered or induced Mr Lawrence to take the fatal dose of morphine, tramadol and codeine you were suffering from a self-induced intoxication of opioids.”
‘You preyed on his kindness’
Justice Stanley said the victim impact statements reflected the intense grief of those who knew and loved Mr Lawrence.
“Their loss is compounded by the knowledge that you preyed on his kindness and generosity.”
As the life sentence was handed down, Mr Lawrence’s brother Philip – who appeared via video-link – clenched his fist and made a gesture in relief.
He held a picture of his brother during the sentencing.
Mr Lawrence’s nephew Blake Lawrence said the family was satisfied with the sentence.
“We are very pleased to hear that the court has passed a 25 year sentence, which means that she is likely to spend the rest of her life behind bars,” he said.
“She is a callous and remorseless individual.
“She exploited David. David was a kind, loving individual and she took advantage of that.
“We will remember David, his love of cars and his friendly nature – he was always willing to do anything for anyone.”
Dent has lodged an appeal against her conviction on the grounds the verdict was “unsafe” given the circumstantial evidence against her.
The appeal court will rule on a date yet to be fixed.