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Victim's family slam sentence for gruesome murder

Published: 8:46AM Monday February 04, 2013 Source: ONE News

The daughter of a Rotorua woman who was fatally stabbed says the sentence handed down to her mother's murderer is "a joke".

Gwenda Sloane pleaded guilty in December to murdering her lover Michelle Hoffman-Tamm, and was today sentenced to life in prison in Rotorua District Court, with a minimum of 17 years in jail.

Sloane stabbed 51-year-old Hoffman-Tamm 33 times following an argument about their relationship, and buried her body under rubbish in a forest near Murupara last November.

Sloane tried to hide as best she could in court today, unable to face those who thought they knew her well.

The victim's daughter, Monique Hoffman-Tamm, said outside court today that Sloane had been "an aunty, she was a second relative, she was everything you could have called a family member".

She said the sentence was "a joke".

"Seventeen years - that would have been nothing to mum."

Hoffman-Tamm's son, Rhys Hoffman, said the family had been "hoping for more".

The 25-year-old was very emotional when he made a statement in court today.

He told the court his partner will give birth to their first child together this month and he is sorry his mother will not be there.

He told the court he is "messed up", and struggles every day to deal with his mother's death. He said he can no longer trust anyone as Sloane was a long-time family friend.

Every brutal detail of how Hoffman-Tamm was killed was read out to a packed gallery of family and friends today. Some became so emotional they had to leave and all the while Sloane sat there, covering her face from them, with her hands.

The two women had been in a casual sexual relationship for a year and had been drinking heavily at Sloane's unit in the city when an argument began after Sloane alleged Hoffmann-Tamm had stolen $20 from her wallet.

After the attack Sloane finished the alcohol and went to sleep leaving Hoffman-Tamm's body lying on the kitchen floor for more than a day before she buried it.

The body was found with ears severed, one ear placed in the victim's mouth and multiple stabs wounds.

Two weeks after Hoffman-Tamm had disappeared, Sloane admitted assaulting her and led police to where she had concealed her body.

Police said it had been so well hidden it would not have been found otherwise.

Monique Hoffman-Tamm tearfully said "how could she?" after hearing the details.

Sloane has written a letter apologising to Hoffman-Tamm's devastated family.

Monique Hoffman-Tamm said it will not bring her mother back.

And Rhys Hoffman said: "Just let my mum rest in peace and have the dignity she deserves."

The court labelled the murder "a callous and ferocious crime".