Defence lawyers have told a court that a woman who pleaded guilty to defensive homicide was regularly abused by her boyfriend, and he convinced her to kill a man.
Bonnie Sawyer-Thompson was 19 years old when she struck Jack Nankervis 70 times with an axe and knife, while he was “out to it” at a unit in Morwell on June 20, 2014.
The Victorian Supreme Court, sitting at Morwell, was told Sawyer-Thompson had met Mr Nankervis for the first time the day she killed him.
The court heard she was in an abusive, sexual relationship with Phillip Mifsud, who she had met on the internet.
“Phil brought the weapon into my house and said that if I didn’t do it, he was going to kill my family. I was freaking out,” Sawyer-Thompson told the court.
During more than two hours in the witness box, Sawyer-Thompson detailed alleged regular abuse inflicted on her by Mr Mifsud during their six-month relationship.
She said he cut off her pony tail, smashed a bottle over her head, burnt her with cigarettes, made her sniff petrol and injected her with drugs without her consent.
Her mother, Kym Sawyer also gave evidence that Mr Mifsud had “pooed” on her daughter.
“Yes, he was laughing about it,” she said, in evidence to the court.
Ms Sawyer said her daughter had told her Mr Mifsud was involved in Mr Nankervis’s death.
She said her daughter told her, “Mum, he made me do it. He said if I didn’t do it, he’d come after youse with a bullet.”
Victim and accused alone in house at time of incident
But under cross-examination, prosecutor Campbell Thomson told Sawyer-Thompson, “I suggest that was a fantasy, and that you had no reasonable grounds to believe there was a threat.”
In his opening address last week, Mr Thomson said Sawyer-Thompson killed Mr Nankervis believing it was necessary to defend her family from serious injury and death, but she did not have reasonable grounds to have that belief.
In an interview with police, Sawyer-Thompson said someone had told her to kill Mr Nankervis, but the court was told it was unclear who that person was.
The victim and Sawyer-Thompson were alone in the house when she killed him.
During Sawyer-Thompson’s committal hearing, Mr Mifsud denied telling Sawyer-Thompson that he wanted Mr Nankervis dead.
Cocktail of drugs allegedly taken before death
Sawyer-Thompson told the court Mr Nankervis had come to her house on the morning she killed him, to burn some clothes to avoid being caught for a home invasion.