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Claremont husband-killer

gets life in prison

February 23, 2011 – 12:50PM

A Perth woman convicted of murdering her husband by stabbing him twice in the chest has been sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 18 years to be served.

Jennifer Sussan Russell-Miles, 47, was convicted in the WA Supreme court in December of murdering her husband, retired British Army Colonel Derek William Miles, in August 2009 at their home in Claremont.

The 64-year-old was stabbed twice in the left chest, resulting in his heart and lung being punctured.

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He was stabbed late in the evening of August 25, 2009, and died in his bed where the couple had been watching television in the early hours of August 26.

Russell-Miles maintained her innocence throughout the trial, suggesting her husband could have stabbed himself by accident.

During sentencing submissions, defence lawyer David McKenzie said Russell-Miles had never committed a criminal offence before the murder but had a history of self-harm.

He said she had been on medication for bipolar disorder and a borderline personality disorder for many years, but said any suggestion that it had been manageable were ”not necessarily” accurate.

Mr McKenzie said although ”everyone thought she was well-treated for her condition” she was clearly not managing it.

He said Russell-Miles had no obvious motive for her crime.

”What may be behind this is her condition,” he said. Prosecutor Carmel Barbagallo argued a life sentence was appropriate because Russell-Miles had an ”intention to kill” her husband.

She said he was asleep when he was stabbed, which meant it was a ”cold and callous” killing and an ”enormous breach of trust”.

Ms Barbagallo said Russell-Miles had waited until Mr Miles was dead before calling the police, to which Russell-Miles shouted: ”That’s outrageous!”Russell-Miles shook her head when Ms Barbagallo said she had shown no remorse.

Ms Barbagallo said although she accepted Mr McKenzie’s submission that Russell-Miles had had a difficult life, the irony was that it was Mr Miles whose ”love and support” helped Russell-Miles out of that life.

In sentencing, Justice Peter Blaxell said it was a ”callous” murder which ”severely impacted” on Mr Miles’ family.

He said the couple, who met in 1999 and married in 2004, seemed to have a happy marriage.

It was the second marriage for both and they lived with one of Russell-Miles’ daughters, although she was not home on the night of the murder.

Justice Blaxell said Russell-Miles used a ”long and very sharp” knife that was kept in a sheath and used to cut fish.

He said the sheath was found in a bedroom draw, which was not its usual place, meaning Russell-Miles must have put it there at some stage before the murder, suggesting some degree of premeditation.

Mr Miles had no defensive wounds and all the blood was found in the bed, Justice Blaxell said.

Russell-Miles appeared to wipe a tear from her eye when she was sentenced to life in prison.

Outside court, Major Crime Squad Detective Senior Sergeant Greg McDonald told reporters it was ”frustrating” for the family because it was most important for them to understand why Mr Miles was murdered.

”The real motive is still unknown and may never be known,” he said.

Russell-Miles must serve a minimum of 18 years before being considered for parole.

She has had her sentence backdated to August 28, 2009.

AAP


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