Killer mother freed after court hears of abuse

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The Independent Online
A WOMAN who stabbed her partner to death was freed yesterday after the judge heard of the years of abuse she suffered at his hands.

Melanie Stokes, 28, was given three years' probation for manslaughter after she admitted killing Martin Taylor at their home in Cheadle Heath, Greater Manchester, last December. Judge Rhys Davies at Manchester Crown Court heard how she was dominated by Mr Taylor throughout their 10-year relationship and suffered mental and physical abuse at his hands.

Stokes claimed diminished responsibility, and said she had been beaten up by him 15 times in their time together. He was described as jealous and protective and would become angry if she expressed any interest in anyone or anything outside the home.

On the night of the killing, the couple had argued after an all-day drinking session at a nearby pub which ended in the early hours. As the argument turned violent, Stokes picked up a six-inch kitchen knife and stabbed Taylor in the chest, penetrating his heart.

The baby-sitter heard Stokes say "Bastard, I have had enough of you" but when ambulance staff arrived she was cradling her semi-conscious victim in her arms, crying: "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it."

He was taken to Stepping Hill Hospital but died shortly after. Judge Rhys Davies said he accepted Stokes had loved her partner and bitterly regretted her actions, telling her: "This is not a let-off."

The same defence was famously used by Emma Humphries and Sara Thornton in their appeals against conviction for killing violent partners. Both were freed from Holloway Prison in 1995.

Jailed at the age of 17 for stabbing her lover to death, Ms Humphries walked free after ten years in prison. She slit her own wrists with a knife she took from a kitchen cupboard before stabbing her lover. "I knew I couldn't carry on," she said.

Mrs Thornton followed her out of prison three weeks later after a five- year campaign of protest to overturn her conviction for the murder of her husband Malcolm.