Rebecca Payne, a 43-year-old mother-of-six, has been sentenced to a jail term of up to 16 years for the murder of her abusive husband, Noel Payne. Following a trial at the Supreme Court in regional Victoria, Australia, Rebecca Payne was found guilty by a jury this year.
In September 2020, Payne served her husband homemade lemon biscuits containing a lethal dose of Temazepam in the icing. Additionally, she provided him with a cup of hot Milo, a popular chocolate drink in Australia, which caused him to lose consciousness.
The court learned about the years of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse Rebecca Payne endured at the hands of Noel Payne, who also exerted coercive control over her. He isolated her from her family and friends, even preventing her from attending her own son’s funeral.
During a heated argument over finances, he took her to a cemetery, where he violently assaulted her, grabbing her by the hair, kicking her in the ribs, and spitting on her while she was defenseless on the ground. Following the murder, Rebecca Payne wrapped her husband’s body in a blanket and stored it in a chest freezer located in their backyard in the town of Walpeup.
Supreme Court Justice Rita Incerti, in describing the extent of the abuse Rebecca Payne endured, remarked that it was “so depraved and distressing that it is difficult to capture the horror of such abuse with words.” She highlighted the controlling and coercive behaviors exhibited by Noel Payne, which included forbidding Rebecca from showering, going for walks alone, or collecting the mail without his presence reported 9News.
To prevent her from being with anyone else, he forced her to have his name tattooed on her body 18 times. Rebecca Payne had previously attempted to leave her abusive husband in 2007 and 2012, but court orders prevented her from taking her children. Justice Incerti acknowledged that Payne was living in circumstances that were intolerable and inescapable.
Considering the controlling nature of her husband, the court orders restricting her access to her children, her limited financial resources, and the fact that she resided in a remote and isolated part of Victoria during COVID-19 lockdowns, Justice Incerti concluded that Payne had no realistic option to leave.
While the court recognized the need for mercy in Payne’s case, Justice Incerti emphasized that she had unlawfully taken her husband’s life without being under direct threat at the time of the incident.
With credit for time served, Rebecca Payne will be eligible for release in slightly over seven years. Her son, Jamie, expressed his lack of awareness regarding the abuse his mother endured and expressed anticipation for their reunion as a family upon her release, stating, “If I felt like I could have done something years ago, I would have done it.”