Woman jailed for life for murdering lover

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Gwenda Sloane has pleaded guilty to the murder of Michelle Hoffman-Tamm. Photo / Stephen Park
Gwenda Sloane has pleaded guilty to the murder of Michelle Hoffman-Tamm. Photo / Stephen Park

A Rotorua woman who murdered her friend and lover Michelle Hoffman-Tamm has been sentenced to life in prison with a minimum non-parole of 17 years.

Gwenda Leigh Sloane, aka Pluss, 44, was sentenced in the High Court at Rotorua today by Justice Patrick Keane after previously pleading guilty to murdering Ms Hoffman-Tamm.

Ms Hoffman-Tamm, 51, disappeared on November 7 last year after leaving the Philip St, Rotorua home she shared with her long-term female partner to visit a friend. Police found her body on November 23 in a forested area just off State Highway 38 near Murupara.

The police summary of facts revealed the two women, who had been friends for more than 20 years and were having a casual sexual relationship, had been drinking together at Sloane's Holland St house on the evening of November 7.

Sloane told police she "lost it"when she thought Ms Hoffman-Tamm had taken $20 from her wallet.

She launched a frenzied attack that left Ms Hoffman-Tamm with 33 stab wounds and her ears severed and one shoved in her mouth.

Ms Hoffman-Tamm's body lay on her kitchen floor for more than a day before Sloane wrapped up the body, put it in her car and buried it in a ditch near Murupara.

Justice Keane called the attack brutal and callous and said Sloane's intention could only have been to mutilate Ms Hoffman-Tamm.

Ms Hoffman-Tamm's 25-year-old son Rhys Hoffman read out his victim impact statement in court, pausing several times to compose himself. He told how he was struggling to cope with what had happened to his mother.

"I have lost all trust in the world and I understand when people say they have lost everything and it's gut-wrenching,'' he said. ``I never got to make up for all the times I wasn't there for my mum.''

He said when his mother was missing he never imagined it would turn out like this.

"I was willing to take on anything but now my outlook has changed,'' he said.

Victim impact statements from five other family members had also been presented to the court, all speaking of their added grief at the gruesome manner in which Ms Hoffman-Tamm died.

Outside of court after the sentencing, Mr Hoffman said he had been hoping for a longer sentence.

"There's not much we can do other than take it and move on and hope that everyone else is going to do the same.''

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