17 years jail for woman who stabbed ‘father figure’ to death in cigarette row — (The Age)

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The Age Victoria

Jane Lee

A woman who stabbed the elderly man she shared a squalid home with more than 20 times while arguing over money for cigarettes has been sentenced to 17 years in jail for his murder.

Anna Horneshaw, 28, was 20-weeks pregnant, starving due to severe morning sickness and withdrawing from prescribed mental health medication, alcohol and cannabis when she began arguing with Zvonimir Petrovski, 67, in November 2015, the Supreme Court heard on Thursday.

Horneshaw and Mr Petrovski lived with her partner Grant Brennan in a Thomastown unit which was littered with rubbish and clutter.

Both Mr Petrovski, who she looked to as a “father figure”, and Mr Brennan were alcoholics and in poor health, the court heard.

Detectives at the scene in Thomastown where Zvonimir​ Petrovski was killed in 2015. Photo: Simon O’Dwyer

Mr Petrovski needed two walking sticks to move around.

Horneshaw was craving cigarettes and asked Mr Petrovski to give her some money to buy them. He refused, telling her to wait until the next day, the court heard.

She complained that he had promised to take care of the couple and was holding out on her, and demanded that he show her the cash he had.

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Neighbours look across to the scene from their front yard in Thomastown to the flat where Zvonimir​ Petrovski was killed. Photo: Simon O’Dwyer

Justice Jane Dixon said Horneshaw’s frustration erupted into “a fit of rage” about 10pm that night, when she punched Mr Petrovski, leading him to fall head-first into a plaster wall and then on to the carpet.

She grabbed a knife and knelt down and stabbed him repeatedly to the back, shoulder and neck while he lay on the floor, swearing abuse at him.

Police at the scene of the murder in Thomastown in 2015. Photo: Simon O’Dwyer

Mr Brennan yelled at her to stop and called emergency services when she did.

He took the knife from Mr Petrovski’s body and hid it in a plastic bag in a wheelie bin.

The couple lied to police that a stranger had entered their house and stabbed the victim, but Mr Brennan later admitted what had happened and was released without charge.

Justice Dixon suggested Horneshaw was also frustrated with her living situation.

The judge said that despite abstaining from alcohol, Horneshaw did not appear to be looking after herself properly with poor physical and psychological health.

Police found the home was littered with rubbish including food scraps and clutter on most surfaces.

They also found kittens in one of the bedrooms and a squashed mouse near mounds of clothing on the floor.

At an earlier hearing, the court was told that her mental-health problems dated back to her childhood, when she was socially awkward, unable to fit in at school and was bullied, Mr Johns said.

That difficult childhood, which also included a serious eating disorder, formed the basis for a trilogy of books she wrote as a teenager with her mother, author Mary Pershall, starting with the title Two Weeks in Grade Six.

All three books are included in the Victorian Premiers’ Reading Challenge.

Justice Dixon said the Horneshaw’s attack on Mr Petrovski was unprovoked and her victim was “defenceless”.

“The taking of a human life by an act of violent homicide demeans the whole community and must be roundly condemned.”

The judge sentenced Horneshaw to 17 years’ prison with a non-parole period of 13 years.

The court heard she had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and had a long history of alcohol abuse and mental health problems, which were exacerbated when she was sexually assaulted.

Justice Dixon said Horneshaw’s son – who was born while she was on remand – was motivating her to rehabilitate and she had good prospects of doing so.

Outside court, Mr Petrovski’s daughter Donna Petrovski said the sentence brought some closure to their family.

She was unsure whether she was satisfied with the length of the prison term imposed, saying it would take “time to heal”.

“It doesn’t bring my father back,” she said.

“He was a very kind person, he would do anything for anyone … He didn’t deserve to die the way he did.”