She had just been thrown across the room by her drunken husband who then held a knife to her throat.

Gerald Wiremu Waa then put down the knife and continued to beat Carol Takua Waa in their Te Aroha St, Hamilton flat.

Waa escaped his grasp then picked it up and drove it 9cm into his chest, before throwing it in the kitchen sink and running to her neighbours.

Waa, 62, was originally charged with her husband's murder but she admitted a downgraded plea of manslaughter in the High Court at Hamilton in February.

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She was sentenced to 12 months' home detention on that charge by Justice Gerard van Bohemen today who described her "horrific" life of physical and emotional abuse.

The court heard how Carol and Gerard Waa had been to a Maori Wardens' lunch on March 11, last year, before heading home and having drinks.

The drinking continued into the evening before they ventured downstairs to a neighbour's flat. The three women in that flat joined the couple upstairs before one of the women left.

Waa and Gerard Waa, 55, then began arguing after she refused to drive him into town.

The guests who remained left, feeling uncomfortable at the argument getting louder.

Police at the scene of Gerald Waa's death in his Te Aroha St, Hamilton, flat in March last year. Photo/File.
Police at the scene of Gerald Waa's death in his Te Aroha St, Hamilton, flat in March last year. Photo/File.

The fight between the couple escalated, and was heard by the downstairs occupants. In the fight, Gerard Waa threw his wife across the room before grabbing the kitchen knife and holding it against her throat. He was then shortly after stabbed.

Crown prosecutor Ross Douch described the couple's relationship as "dysfunctional" for so long that it became the norm.

The couple had been together since 1983, when she was released from prison for stabbing her partner who had also beaten her.

He pushed for a jail term, but Waa's lawyer Kerry Burroughs said she was remorseful for what happened and although admitted stabbing her husband, she never meant to kill him.

She'd endured a tough life but wanted to now deal with her emotional and psychological scars.

"The defendant missed a richness of family life [aged 14 to 15] and if you look forward her life hasn't really improved ... she has lived a life that has been given to her. It has not been much of a life, not the sort of life that we anticipate people in this country look forward to or should have."

On the night of her husband's death, Burroughs said she was being "brutalised" by him.

"She hit back, but what else was there to do? Nobody anticipates that they should get the bash. This is what was re-occurring in the defendant's life in regards to the partners that she had.

"I hope there's a decent discount for the life that she's had to live."

Justice van Bohemen accepted her torturous life.

"Your life since a young age has been one of physical, sexual and mental abuse. You've had a chaotic and socially deprived upbringing due to alcohol abuse by both of your parents."

After her parents split, when she was 6, she had to bring up her twin siblings who were just 5-months-old.

She ran away from home at 13, falling into a life of crime and alcohol to escape the home.

Justice van Bohemen said a report by Waikato clinical psychiatrist Dr Peter Dean found Waa was chronically depressed and had diminished cognitive function.

The report revealed how she remained dependent on her abusive partners despite the physical, sexual and emotional abuse.

"Dr Dean stated a dysfunctional upbringing was reinforced by your adult experiences and contributed to your impulsive and aggressive behaviour in response to conflict in your relationships."

Dean assessed Waa as having a "dysfunctional personality of mixed type" and some features of post traumatic stress disorder.

In assessing a suitable sentence, Justice van Bohemen took into account a Law Commission report which drew attention to the reduced culpability of victims of family violence who kill abusers.

He gave her credit for her mental health, remorse, time on remand and guilty plea, bringing it down to two years and said she was suitable for home detention.

If you're in danger now:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.

• Run outside and head for where there are other people.

• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.

• Take the children with you.

• Don't stop to get anything else.

• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay

Where to go for help or more information:

• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz

• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz

• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz

• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and middle eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584

• Ministry of Justice: www.justice.govt.nz/family-justice/domestic-violence

• National Network of Stopping Violence: www.nnsvs.org.nz

• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent. www.whiteribbon.org.nz

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