A woman who fatally poisoned her husband of 40 years with spiked vegetable soup, before slashing his wrist, sent a chilling text to her adult daughter on the morning of the heinous killing.
Judith Ann Venn showed little emotion as she was granted immediate parole eligibility after admitting to killing her husband Lance at the couple’s home east of Brisbane in 2020.
More details surrounding the moments before the killing were revealed, including a text Venn sent to her adult daughter after another of her mentally-ill husband’s erratic acts.
The court was told Lance had arrived at his daughter’s house in the early hours of the morning to pick up a car.
When informed of this, Venn, 69, told her daughter: “OK, that ends it.”
There is no suggestion Venn’s daughter had any prior knowledge of Venn’s subsequent actions.
Catching you up on all the crime news you’ve missed. Listen to the latest episode of the True Crime Cheat Sheet podcast here
In sentencing, Supreme Court Justice Frances Williams said a “tragic chain of events” had led to Mr Venn’s death, exacerbated by her serious mental health issues.
She was released immediately on parole, with some 1081 days already spent in pre-sentence custody being counted as time served.
Venn pleaded guilty to Mr Venn’s manslaughter last week.
The court was told that on August 13, 2020, Venn picked up Mr Venn’s Lorazepam tablets from the chemist, dissolving 50 tablets into a batch of homemade vegetable soup.
She had earlier researched ways of taking her own life on the internet.
Venn also asked Mr Venn to sharpen a knife.
On the morning of Mr Venn’s death, he caught a taxi to his daughter’s home to collect a car she was selling on his behalf.
“(He) arrived at your daughter’s home at about 3.42am and waited until your daughter was awake,” Justice Williams said.
“Your daughter sent a message to you advising the deceased had been at her home since 4am.
“At that stage you replied, to the effect: ‘OK, that ends it’.”
Venn served her husband the poisoned soup about 7.30am.
“He went to the bathroom to take a shower and became unsteady on his feet,” Justice Williams said.
After helping him to the bedroom, Mr Venn hit Venn in the face, causing bruising.
The court was told he fell unconscious and Venn used the sharpened knife to cut his left wrist.
She then attempted to take her own life, leaving a note for her family.
Mr Venn could not be revived by paramedics, a later autopsy determining he died from an overdose of the sleeping medication.
Venn’s plea to the charge of manslaughter was because of an abnormality of mind – linked to a severe depressive illness she suffered from – at the time she planned and caused her husband’s death.
“While you intended to kill the deceased … this sentence proceeds on the basis of diminished responsibility,” Justice Williams said.
The court was told Mr Venn had a history of bipolar spectrum disorder and manic depressive illness, his behaviour escalating in the months prior to Venn’s fatal act.
They included draining the couple’s finances on boats they did not need and frequently going on bizarre walks at night.
His anxieties had been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and a heightened sense of isolation from being unable to attend church gatherings, Justice Williams said.
Venn’s marriage was also marred by bouts of verbal and physical abuse at her husband’s hands.
Doctors had determined at the time she killed her husband, Venn’s level of depression was so high it bordered “psychosis”.
“It distorted your cognitive abilities, which impacted your ability to know you should not have done the act,” Justice Williams said.
“You were getting more and more sleep-deprived and isolated.
“The worsening of your cognitive distortions, characterised by all-or-nothing catastrophic thinking, restricted your ability to problem-solve or make rational decisions.
“It is in these circumstances you were led to believe the only solution to an intolerable and hopeless situation was for you and the deceased to die.”
Venn had expressed frustration at Mr Venn’s escalating behaviour and spoke of wanting to “relieve” her adult children of needing to care for him.
Statements in support of the churchgoing 69-year-old were tendered to the court, highlighting her “generous and caring nature” raising three children and caring for Mr Venn.
In their victim impact statements, they asked for Venn to be sentenced “compassionately” and get treatment for her mental health issues.
One had offered to support her when she was released from custody.
Justice Williams sentenced Venn to 8.5 years’ jail but granted immediate parole eligibility.