Graphic content warning: Some readers may find this story disturbing.

A woman who murdered a friend at a girls' pamper party could be out of jail in 12 years.

Anna Eiao Browne, 37, was jailed for life today by Justice Edwin Wylie in the High Court at Auckland, and ordered to serve a minimum of 12 years behind bars.

"There is nothing to suggest that a sentence of life imprisonment would be manifestly unjust in your case," Justice Wylie told Browne.


The witnesses to the murder included four children.

A jury found Browne guilty in August of the murder of Carly Stewart after sitting through nearly three weeks of evidence about how a pamper party ended in bloodshed.

Stewart, 36, was killed at a Te Atatu home in West Auckland, where nine women had gathered for a boozy pamper party last October 15.

Stewart died from uncontrollable blood loss when Browne plunged a large butcher's knife deep into the left side of her face.

Stewart's family and friends, including her father, mother and brother, were in court on Friday.

Browne was dressed in a red blouse with a black jacket. She was also wearing eye and face makeup.

Carly Stewart died after Browne plunged a large butcher's knife into her face. Photo / Supplied
Carly Stewart died after Browne plunged a large butcher's knife into her face. Photo / Supplied

Charlene Stewart said her daughter's death caused her distress and inconsolable grief.

"We struggle to understand why this has happened," she told the court.

She said her daughter was a devoted, loving and kind mum to her two children.

"Now they sleep with weapons near their beds just in case someone does the same as they did to Carly," she said.

"Shame on you, Anna Browne, how dare you murder our Carly?"

Charlene Stewart said Browne was "calculating" with her murder.

It made her sick to see Browne sitting throughout the trial "laughing", she said.

"You are a murderer."

Carly's father, Reginald Stewart, said the day his daughter died is still very vivid in his memory.

He was at home relaxing with a group of mates when he received a phone call that Stewart had been murdered.

"This news broke me and I cried uncontrollably," he said.

"I'm still grieving in my own way. I don't show it, but it's there."

Reginald Stewart said he had suffered health difficulties as he dealt with his daughter's death.

"It's hard looking at you, Anna."

The pamper party

The party began about midday on October 15 last year.

The group of women and some of their children gathered to have their nails done by a beautician.

Throughout the afternoon the women drank bourbon and vodka and ate snacks as they reminisced.

Nearing 4pm there was a scuffle, after Browne had became increasingly agitated.

Witnesses said Browne began abusing other guests before Stewart came to restrain her.

"You f***ing disrespectful b****, my nieces are f***ing here," Stewart told Browne.

"Carly was angry," Stewart's cousin, Patricia Stewart, told the court at trial.

"[Carly] said, 'Well, I don't care. I'm not scared of her'. Then she said, 'I'll be the bigger person and walk away'."

But Browne wished to continue the spat and made her way to the kitchen.

It was there that she sought out the biggest knife she could find - a butcher's blade.

Patricia Stewart said Browne "had a look about her".

She described her entering the living room with her hands behind her back.

"Out of the corner of my eye I saw Anna. I could sense something was about to happen."

Then, without flinching, Browne raised the knife and plunged it into her friend's face.

"She stabbed Carly, and then just walked back out, she was just staring at Carly," Patricia Stewart said.

Stewart bled to death in the living room.

A fly-through video of the scene was played to the court, which showed medical equipment strewn across the room next to Stewart's body - a sign of the desperate attempt to save her.

Pathologist Dr Thambirajah Balachandra, who performed Stewart's autopsy, said a vein in Stewart's neck was severed.

The knife cut deep enough to hit the right side of her throat, he said.

The wound was about 11cm deep.

"[The stabbing was] due to alcohol, drugs or a combination of the two, or perhaps something more," defence counsel Marie Dyhrberg QC argued in her final address to the jury.

"[It was] not the violent outburst of someone that has lost it."

She had argued that her client showed no murderous intent and claims she acted unconsciously, suffering from an "automatism".

Justice Wylie told the jury to ignore the automatism claims.

"[It was] supposed to be a good day - everyone was looking forward to it," the party's host Emmanuelle Sinclair told the court on the first day of the trial.