19 April 2023

Wife accused of murdering husband claims she had 'miserable' life with him

| Albert McKnight
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Dale Lee Vella

Dale Lee Vella has been accused of murdering her husband, Mark Anthony Vella. Photo: Facebook.

A woman accused of murdering her husband said she has no memory of shooting him in the head while he slept, but did detail the alleged emotional abuse she claims she suffered in their marriage.

While Dale Lee Vella admits shooting Mark Anthony Vella at their home in Murrumbateman and had been willing to plead guilty to manslaughter, she is fighting a murder charge over the 9 August 2021 incident, jurors heard when her NSW Supreme Court trial began last week.

Ms Vella addressed jurors herself on Tuesday (18 April), saying she had taken the weapon from their gun safe and planned to kill herself on the morning of the shooting, but her husband and their daughter had come home earlier than expected so she delayed her plans.

When asked about the events of that evening, the 54-year-old said all she remembered was “drifting” through the wall, resting on a chair, then being taken outside in handcuffs by police while hearing her daughter call out, “Mummy”.

“I don’t remember anything else,” she said, adding she didn’t remember firing the gun.

During cross-examination, she said, “I never intended to kill anybody except for myself”.

“You have that memory, do you?” the prosecutor shot back.

Ms Vella claimed she spent years in a difficult relationship with her legally blind husband, with the troubles continuing when she was diagnosed with cancer in 2019.

She lost her hair as well as her breasts due to the disease, but said he didn’t support her.

“I didn’t feel like a woman and he said, ‘You don’t look like one either’,” she claimed.

“It wasn’t the first time that he said something like that.”

She said their marriage did not improve when they moved to Murrumbateman in 2021.

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The couple also spent years in financial stress, partly due to what Ms Vella claimed was her husband’s spending habits.

“If he was at the pub with the boys he would shout as often as he could, because he wanted them to think well of him,” she said.

She said they had weekly arguments about their finances in the years leading up to the shooting.

“Mark just got the things he wanted, that made him happy,” she said.

Ms Vella alleged he had regular temper outbursts, at least every week, and she was frightened when he yelled at her.

“It could be anything; there’s not enough beer in the fridge, the house isn’t clean…” she said.

“You didn’t know. It felt like I was walking on eggshells all my life.”

She also claimed he had been violent towards her, speaking of one alleged argument about money in which he wouldn’t let her leave the bedroom and kept pushing her down onto the bed.

She claimed told her, “You’ll sit here and you’ll listen to me” and, “I could bash you and go to jail and it’d be worth it”.

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Ms Vella fought back tears when talking about how their second daughter died from a brain tumour in the 2000s when she was just three years old.

“I felt he didn’t seem as lost without her as I was,” she said.

The couple had another daughter together and raised Ms Vella’s two sons from another marriage, but she claimed he was “jealous” of the children.

“He felt like I put them first and I should be supportive of him more than the children,” she said.

When her barrister, Greg Hoare, asked why she hadn’t left the relationship, she replied, “Mark told me if I left him he’d make my life miserable”.

“But my life was miserable, when I look back on it now,” she said.

However, during cross-examination, she admitted she had been driving a new Toyota Landcruiser, which was a company car, at the time of Mr Vella’s death, was a regular online shopper and had several firearms in her name. She and her husband also took expensive cruises together.

“Things were tight weren’t they, but you went on cruises?” the prosecutor asked.

“[We’d] scrape it together,” Ms Vella said.

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The prosecutor challenged her about the comments she made about Mr Vella after the death of their second daughter, suggesting he had been “absolutely distraught”.

“I’m sure he was. I just don’t know how he felt,” Ms Vella said.

The prosecutor also suggested he was distraught when she was diagnosed with cancer and she replied, “I’d assume so, yes”.

She was also asked about comments she made to a doctor, in which she said arguments with her husband had been verbal, not physical.

“It was not a lot of violence, he only hit me twice,” she claimed in the courtroom.

She said while one alleged incident was when he pushed her, the other was when they were on their bed and he struck her in the back of the head and then said, “Stop it, you’re snoring”.

“Ms Vella, your memory is very selective, isn’t it?” the prosecutor asked her at one stage.

“I can only tell you what I remember and don’t remember,” she replied.

The trial continues before Justice Helen Wilson.

Original Article published by Albert McKnight on Riotact.

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