Woman who stabbed boyfriend to death is jailed

Shaniece Dobson was sentenced at the High Court in Edinburgh. Picture: TSPL
Shaniece Dobson was sentenced at the High Court in Edinburgh. Picture: TSPL
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A WOMAN who stabbed her boyfriend to death in a jealous rage after he spoke on the phone to an ex-girlfriend has been jailed for ten years.

Shaniece Dobson, 21, sobbed and slumped in the dock at the High Court in Edinburgh as the judge, Lord Boyd, announced the length of the sentence.

He told her that an argument with Sean Martin, 21, provided no justification for the “deliberate and wicked” act of plunging a kitchen knife into his chest.

Lord Boyd said the killing had been all the more shocking because it had been witnessed by Mr Martin’s sister, 17, and 15-year-old brother.

“For no reason this court can discern, exactly a year ago today, you deliberately walked into the kitchen of your flat, armed yourself with a knife and walked back into the living room and stabbed Sean Martin in the chest, using such force that it penetrated his chest cavity to a depth of 17 centimetres,” added Lord Boyd.

An earlier trial heard that Dobson was angry that Mr Martin had been on the phone to his former girlfriend. However, he had simply been arranging for her to take his dog.

Dobson was accused of murdering Mr Martin, of Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, on 25 February last year at her home in Jackson Court, Coatbridge, but the jury convicted her of the lesser offence of culpable homicide.

The trial at the High Court in Livingston had to be halted in a “bizarre” incident when a member of the public mistakenly took the seat of one of the jury and listened to the evidence. A new jury was sworn in but it meant that Mr Martin’s sister, Ann, and brother, Paul, had to testify twice, reliving what the judge described as their “horrific experience” of seeing the stabbing.

The knife used by Dobson had a seven-and-a-half inch blade and it pierced both Mr Martin’s lungs and cut his windpipe and the main artery, the aorta. He collapsed and died within minutes from massive blood loss.

The defence counsel, Frances McMenamin, QC, said Dobson had started drinking at 14 and progressed to abusing drugs. At one stage, she was drinking a bottle of vodka and two to four bottles of cider a day. In the weeks before the killing, she had been alcohol-free, but she was abusing drugs to cope with withdrawal symptoms.

That day, she “succumbed to temptation” and drank heavily, added Ms McMenamin. She was disappointed in herself and felt she was letting down herself and her family. She became so angry that a “trivial remark” was enough to tip her over the edge.

“She still has no recollection of going into the kitchen and seizing the knife. She is profoundly remorseful of her actions,” said Ms McMenamin.

Lord Boyd said the jury had not been satisfied that the offence amounted to murder, but he added: “However, there is no doubt this was a deliberate and wicked act of the utmost gravity. You chose to...stab him in the part of the body to inflict maximum damage. There may have been some argument between you but nothing that happened is close to providing a justification or explanation for your behaviour. I accept alcohol has played a big part in your life and may well have done so that night.”

The judge noted that Mr Martin’s family had been very proud of him, and his success as an amateur boxer.

“His passing has left a large gap in the family. No sentence I can impose can adequately mark their grief. Nothing I can do can compensate them for their loss,” he said.

The judge ordered Dobson to be supervised for a year at the end of her prison sentence.