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A new mother who had undiagnosed postpartum depression when she stabbed her partner in the neck as he bent over to kiss her young child has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison.
the main points:
- Liz stabbed her partner twice while intent on kissing their baby
- Her lawyer said she was struggling as a new mom at the time
- The judge said she needed to take responsibility for her actions
In July 2019, 28-year-old Melissa Amy Lees armed herself with a kitchen knife before luring the 27-year-old into a bedroom by proposing to say goodbye to the infant before he left for work.
While he was standing, she attacked him from behind with a 10cm knife and stabbed him twice at the base of his neck.
He turned and stabbed him a third time in the left shoulder before a short struggle broke out and he was able to restrain her.
Then Liz said to the man, “It’s either you or me… do you want to kill me?”
Relatives of the victim, who had stings that required stitches, were taken to hospital while Lacey, who left the house, turned herself in to police later in the day.
Attorney General Ben Stanwix told the Supreme Court that in interviews with investigators, Liz had falsely claimed that she had acted in self-defense because her partner had been aggressive towards her.
She later told a psychiatrist that she could not remember the specifics of what she had done.
Postpartum depression has not been diagnosed
Liz was originally facing a charge of attempted murder, but ended up pleading guilty to the lighter charge of committing an act, with intent to harm, endangering a person’s life, health, or safety.
Defense attorney Melissa McEwen said the stabbing occurred when her client was struggling as a new mother, was sleep-deprived and suffered from anxiety and undiagnosed postpartum depression.
Ms McEwen said Liz also alleged that she was subjected to verbal, emotional, physical and financial abuse by the victim.
Ms McEwen urged the court to show an “element of mercy” in the case and impose a suspended prison sentence, saying her rehabilitation would not be better if she was in the community.
But the prosecution argued that an immediate prison sentence was necessary, and Stanwix described the case as “strange” and highlighted that Liz’s intention was to cause her partner’s life-threatening injury.
Liz wiped her tears as Judge Anthony Derek said he was convinced the attack occurred in the context of her suffering from undiagnosed postpartum depression.
He also agreed that Liz was sleep-deprived, felt unsupported, had anxiety issues and personality traits that affected her ability to act in a calm and rational manner.
Mutual domestic violence
However, he said that even though these issues had a “causal connection” to her offense, she underestimated her guilt by a small amount, and was aware at all times that what she was doing was wrong.
Judge Derek also noted that domestic violence in the relationship was mutual and that both Liz and the man had used alcohol and illegal drugs.
He called the attack an “unprovoked act of significant violence”, saying that there was “a degree of premeditation” and that Liz “managed” her partner to be “in a vulnerable position to stab him”.
He said that while the victim’s injuries were not significant, the stabbing could have had more serious consequences and resulted in a penetrating wound in one of his major blood vessels.
Judge Derek also said he was not satisfied that Lies had accepted full responsibility for her actions, nor that she was as remorseful as she could be.
He said a suspended prison sentence would not be appropriate and Lees, who has no criminal record, was sentenced to three years and ten months in prison.
She will have to serve half her sentence before she can be paroled.
The man did not provide a victim impact statement to the court, which he was told had explicitly requested that there be no restraining order against lifelong violence against Lees, which is usually the case in such cases.
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