A NSW woman who faked her grazier partner’s suicide, sedating and gassing him to inherit his property, will call a prison cell home until at least 2047.
Natasha Beth Darcy, 46, was on Monday sentenced to a maximum of 40 years in prison for the crime which Justice Julia Lonergan called “stupid, clumsy and ugly”.
The earliest Darcy, who has been in prison since 2017, can be released on parole is November 2047.
Darcy was found guilty of murdering Mathew Dunbar by a NSW Supreme Court jury in June.
The 42-year-old was found dead in his bed on his Pandora property in the Northern Tablelands town of Walcha on August 2, 2017. Darcy told police, and still maintains, that he killed himself.
In sentencing her on Monday, Justice Lonergan detailed a months-long campaign by Darcy to kill Mr Dunbar.
“As time passed … emotional abuse and sneaky physical attacks escalated into a more focused and foolproof method to achieve the outcome she desired,” she said.
“The offender was callous, relentless and heartless in her pursuit to get rid of Mathew.
“Her lies and methods were stupid, clumsy and ugly, but were sadly successful in achieving Mathew’s death.
“They were not, however, good enough to evade detection.”
The couple met on a dating website in 2014. The Crown contended it didn’t take long for Darcy to start pushing for Mr Dunbar to change his will so she would inherit his $3.5 million property.
It also didn’t take long for her to start researching ways to kill him, via numerous Google searches on topics including redback spiders, fungi, suicide and “how to commit murder”, prosecutor Brett Hatfield said.
He argued Darcy should be jailed for the rest of her life given she entirely exploited and manipulated the relationship for financial gain.
She left a “false trail” belying Mr Dunbar’s mental ill-health, and made “two dry runs”, in either practised or real attempts at his life, he said.
But her lawyer Janet Manuell SC argued while these events were suspicious, they couldn’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Justice Lonergan on Monday found otherwise.
She also noted Darcy’s previous criminal history, which has included a conviction for hitting her then husband Colin Crossman on the head with a hammer as he slept. Days later, she sedated him and burnt down their house as he slept.