A battered wife who drugged and stuffed her husband into a chest freezer claims she is the real victim.
Rebecca Payne, 43, faces life in prison after being found guilty of the sadistic murder of Noel Payne, 68.
She faced the Supreme Court of Victoria on Monday where her barrister Richard Edney urged Justice Rita Incerti to have mercy on his client.
Rebecca Payne, 43, claims she was abused by her husband Noel Payne
Noel Payne was drugged and stuffed in a freezer by his wife Rebecca Payne
Mother of three, Rebecca Payne (pictured with husband Noel), was found guilty of murder by a 12-person jury at the Mildura Supreme Court on May 15 after two days of deliberation
‘This is a case where Rebecca Payne should be shown mercy by your honour given what she experienced, endured at the hands of Noel Payne,’ he said.
‘In this extreme and unique case any term of imprisonment should be proportionately lower than would ordinarily be the case for murder.’
In March, a jury found Payne guilty of murdering her husband in September 2020 despite her claims that she did not actually mean to kill him.
Police alleged Payne had knocked Mr Payne out cold by serving him biscuits, and likely a hot cup of Milo, laced with sleeping pills.
Forensic doctors were unable to determine if he had died from an overdose or suffocation after Payne stuffed his body into a chest freezer and strapped it shut.
Mr Edney said his client maintained she did not intend to kill her husband and simply panicked after administering him with the poison.
The court heard Mr Payne had taken on another lover, who cannot be named for legal reasons, at the time of his death, who also lived within the family home.
Mr Edney alleged Mr Payne had savagely abused both women leading up to his death.
‘Any punishment for Rebecca Payne can only make sense if its calibrated within that prism of family violence. In circumstance where Noel Payne created, in this remote western Victoria small town of Walpeup, a perverted and disturbing immoral universe where he treated the women of that house as mere objects … for his own pleasure,’ he said.
The court heard Payne claimed to have been branded with 18 tattoos with her husband’s name all over her body in a sick form of possession.
Mr Edney claimed Mr Payne had raped and abused both women throughout the course of their deranged relationship.
‘We have the threats, we have the physical violence, we have the sexual violence, we have the financial control, we have the coercive control,’ he said.
Noel Payne was described in court as a brute who lived a double life
The kitchen wear Rebecca Payne cooked up a lethal batch of cookies for her husband Noel
The court heard Payne claimed her husband had repeatedly spat on her, watched her in the shower and bashed her at a graveyard.
‘The conduct against both Rebecca and (the woman) was reprehensible, obscene,’ Mr Edney said.
‘He raped them, sexually assaulted them and let’s be clear (the woman) was a young woman with an acquired brain injury.’
The court heard the jury that convicted Payne had been forced to watch videos of some of that abuse.
In a victim impact statement, Mr Payne’s other battered lover said she was better off without him.
‘He wanted to keep me all for himself. If Noel wasn’t dead my life would still be worse. I hate Bec for what she’s done but life is now better than it was,’ she said.
Rebecca Payne claims she is the real victim of her husband
Like Payne, the woman had been made to have five tattoos of his name inked on the most private parts of her body.
‘Places you can only see if I’m naked. He made me get these because he wouldn’t let me find someone else. These can’t be removed, they’re very dark and in thick writing,’ she told the court.
But many who know the convicted killer, including her sons, say ‘she’s already done her time’ after living with her abusive partner and should be set free.
‘She lived for 14 years in hell with a monster,’ her son Jamie, told the Herald Sun.
‘The kids need her. The community needs her. We all need her.’
A man who lived down the road from the Payne’s claimed ‘there’s not a doubt in the world’ Noel was planning to kill Rebecca, their two sons who lived there and the other woman.
‘She saved at least four lives. She didn’t know whether she was going to go to bed and wake up the next morning. Or whether her boys were going to go to bed and wake up the next morning,’ the neighbour said.
Her friend who lived nearby, John, echoed his sentiments saying ‘It’s not fair’ and that she is the real victim.’
Crown prosecutor David Glynn dismissed claims Payne was anything less than a cold blooded killer.
He had earlier told the jury that after Mr Payne had passed out, she wrapped his body in a blanket and stashed him away in an empty chest freezer out back.
Finally, she tied the lid down with straps, ensuring he had ‘no chance of escape’.
‘It must have been ghastly. I mean to just do that, to do what she did to him. That is something that anyone I think who wasn’t a psychopath – I’m not suggesting she is one – would recoil from,’ he said.
‘It would require a significant degree of determination and grit to do what she did … she had that grit, she had that foresight, she had the determination, but she applied it to this purpose, that is murder, rather than a different way that she could have extracted herself, namely working out a way to leave that marriage.’
Payne will be sentenced next week.