A woman who murdered her husband by drugging homemade biscuits after suffering more than a decade of ‘insidious abuse’ at his hands will spend at least 10 years in prison.
Rebecca Payne, 43 – who was dubbed the ‘Cookie monster’ – was found guilty of Noel Payne’s murder by a Supreme Court jury in regional Victoria earlier this year.
But the presiding judge said her ‘claim for mercy is compelling’ due to the abuse she suffered over many years.
In September 2020, Payne gave her husband a fatal dose of Temazepam by lacing the icing of biscuits, serving them to him with a cup of Milo.
She then wrapped him in a blanket and stored his body in a chest freezer in the backyard of their Walpeup family home.
Mother of three, Rebecca Payne (pictured), was found guilty of murder, but the judge said she deserves ‘mercy’
During her trial Payne said her husband Noel (pictured) had physically and psychologically abused her for 14 years
The killing came after she suffered years of coercive control and physical, emotional and sexual abuse from Mr Payne.
He cut off communication from her family and friends, did not allow her to go to her son’s funeral and forced her to have his name tattooed on her body 18 times.
On one occasion, after a fight over finances, Mr Payne took her to a cemetery, grabbed her by the hair, kicked her in the ribs and spat on her while she was on the ground.
Supreme Court Justice Rita Incerti said it was impossible to separate the impact the ‘insidious abuse’ had on Payne from her motive to murder him.
‘You were trapped in an abusive, violent and cruel environment for over a decade,’ she said.
‘Your conduct and regrettable decision to kill Mr Payne cannot be disentangled from your circumstances and the family violence you endured at his hands.’
The woman dubbed the ‘Cookie Monster’ killed her husband by feeding him two biscuits laced with Temazepam at their home (pictured) in Walpeup, in north-western Victoria, in September 2020
Justice Incerti said the case ‘calls out loudly’ for her to use a high degree of mercy in deciding on a prison sentence.
‘Your claim for mercy is compelling,’ she said, handing Payne a maximum 16-year prison sentence.
She must serve 10 years before she is eligible for parole.
Payne has already served two years and seven months of her sentence.
Many who know her, 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.’
During her trial Payne took the stand and claimed her husband coerced her to the town of 170 people in order to isolate her from her friends and family.
She said she suffered immense physical and psychological abuse, along with another intellectual disabled woman he cruelly brought into the household.
She claimed her husband would rape her ‘whenever he felt like it’, control her and beat her.
The ‘cult-like’ figure also pressured her into a getting 18 tattoos of his name across her body so no one else could ‘love her’.
He also got her fired from her job at a store in Ouyen, 20 minutes east of Walpeup, as he would often sit inside and frighten customers who would speak to her.
Many of the 170 residents of Walpeup (pictured) see Rebecca as the real ‘victim’ and hailed her as a hero for saving the lives of others in the house
A man who lived close to the Paynes 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.
Another neighbour, John, said ‘It’s not fair’ and that Rebecca Payne was ‘the real victim’.