Martin Joseph McDowell
From Christchurch Press story 11th October 1997
A High Court judge's voice broke with emotion as she sentenced an Auckland man for the "dreadful" murder of his wife in front of their son. In the High Court in Auckland Justice Potter sentenced Martin Joseph McDowell, 46, to a life term for murdering his wife, Bobette McDowell, in March. But, while describing the killing as callous and cruel, and her voice breaking as she read out details of the attack, Her Honour turned down a Crown request for a minimum non-parole period of more than 10 years.
She said there were "grievous and loathsome" factors in the case but not the aggravating features which would categorise the crime as exceptional. McDowell was sentenced after changing his plea from not guilty to guilty. He faced one charge of murder and one of aggravated burglary. He broke into his wife's home in Auckland's Ellerslie suburb in March and slit her throat with a knife.
The couple had recently separated. Their son, 11, heard his mother's screams, went to investigate, and saw her being murdered. McDowell said he could not recall his son being present but the Crown said he must have realised there was a chance the boy would be there. Crown prosecutor Aaron Perkins requested a non-parole period of more than 10 years. He said it was a premeditated, unprovoked killing with a virtually defenceless victim. "He showed her absolutely no mercy.... it was a brutal, repugnant way in which to kill another human being.''
Chris LaHatte, defending, said his client could not understand why he murdered his wife and could not recall the killing. He was a man who had kept his emotions to himself for years and had "snapped'' on the night in question. The thought of his son being present upset him enormously and in some ways the gulf that now existed between father and child was worse for him than any prison sentence. The judge said McDowell had deprived his two children of a mother they loved.
Date of Birth
Killed his wife by cutting her throat after breaking into her Ellerslie home in March 1997
Sentenced to "life imprisonment" in October 1997
First parole hearing March 2007
Due for another hearing August 2010
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OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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