Convicted killer ‘can’t be believed’

A woman has today (Thursday 22 August 2013) been found guilty of murdering her partner who she stabbed through the heart. Rebecca Dormer, 23, of Spring Hill, Whitby, was convicted of deliberately killing 32-year-old Gareth Matthews after an almost two-week trial at Leeds Crown Court. She was sentenced to life imprisonment and will serve a minimum of 15 and half years before being considered for parole.

A woman has today (Thursday 22 August 2013) been found guilty of murdering her partner who she stabbed through the heart. Rebecca Dormer, 23, of Spring Hill, Whitby, was convicted of deliberately killing 32-year-old Gareth Matthews after an almost two-week trial at Leeds Crown Court. She was sentenced to life imprisonment and will serve a minimum of 15 and half years before being considered for parole.

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A North Yorkshire woman facing life behind bars for the murder of her partner has had her appeal thrown out after top judges said she could not be believed.

Rebecca Dormer, 25, stabbed 32-year-old Gareth Matthews in the chest during a row at their home in Spring Hill, Whitby, in February 2013.

Police searching drains outside Whitby Police Station as part of a murder investigation around the corner from Spring Hill Court'''w130801e

Police searching drains outside Whitby Police Station as part of a murder investigation around the corner from Spring Hill Court'''w130801e

She said she could not remember the incident, but was convicted of murder at Leeds Crown Court in August that year and jailed for life.

Appealing, she claimed her memory had returned – and that she had been acting in self-defence when 
Mr Matthews attacked her.

But after hearing her evidence at the Court of Appeal in London, Lady Justice Hallett said the killer’s story was ‘not capable of belief’.

“She gives every appearance to members of this court of someone adapting her story to escape responsibility for what she has done,” she said.

“Her memory seems to us to be somewhat selective.”

A jury heard during the trial that Dormer, originally from Loftus, East Cleveland, Teesside, had stabbed her partner with a kitchen knife.

She was found desperately trying to help by pressing socks to the wound, but he died from enormous blood loss.

Dormer accepted she stabbed Mr Matthews, but denied intending to cause him serious harm.

However, the jury rejected her defence - which would have led to a manslaughter conviction - and convicted her of murder.

Afterwards, her trial barrister Paul Greaney QC said Dormer felt ‘deep remorse’ for what she had done.

Mr Greaney argued that returned memories of the incident should lead to Dormer’s conviction being over-
turned.

The ‘critically important’ self-defence argument had not been put forward at the trial, through no fault of Dormer’s, he said.

Giving evidence via a video link from her prison, Dormer said she now remembered the stabbing had occurred during a violent row.

‘He called me a slag and punched me in the side of my temple,’ she said.

‘Then he came at me and that’s when I picked up the knife - I hit him with the knife and realised I had stabbed him.’

She said she was drunk at the time and it was only after her conviction that vivid memories, including of trying to save Mr Matthews’ life, returned.

‘It was just like I was there,’ she said. ‘I could feel and smell the blood. It was like I could feel his heart beating.’

Mr Greaney accepted that judges might be sceptical as to whether Dormer’s new recollection was real.

But he said there was independent evidence which backed up her claim.

Mr Matthews had an injury to his knuckle which was consistent with having delivered a blow at the time of the events, he said.

He continued: ‘If she is making it up, why not make it up at the time of the trial?’

But the appeal judge, sitting today with Mr Justice Edis and Judge Juliet May QC, rejected the arguments.

She concluded: ‘The time for running a defence or calling evidence is at trial, not after conviction.

‘Defendants should be under no illusion that they can take a tactical decision to run one line of argument rather than another at trial, and then try to run the other in the Court of Appeal.

‘It is only in exceptional cases that the interests of justice demands that the court intervenes.

‘In our judgment, this is not an exceptional case.’

The appeal was dismissed.