29 Sep 2017

'How dare you murder our beautiful Carly?'

12:49 pm on 29 September 2017

An Auckland woman who stabbed her friend to death at a pamper party has been jailed for at least 12 years.

Exterior of the High Court in Auckland

High Court in Auckland Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Anna Browne, 37, was found guilty in August of murdering mother-of-two Carly Stewart in October 2016.

Browne stabbed Ms Stewart once in the head with a large kitchen knife, inflicting an 11 centimetre stab wound.

She died after losing massive amounts of blood.

In the High Court in Auckland today, Browne was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum non-parole period of 12 years.

The court was told that the pamper party was meant to be a chance for a group of friends to catch up, have a few drinks and get their nails done.

But things took an ugly turn.

Justice Wylie said the two women got into a verbal argument, but Ms Stewart had decided to "be the bigger person" and walk away.

He said it was Browne who decided to pursue the matter.

She went into the kitchen and got a large knife. She hid it behind her back as she went to find Ms Stewart in the lounge.

Justice Wylie said Browne muttered Ms Stewart's name before stabbing her once in the head.

The murder was witnessed by a number of Ms Stewart's friends and family, including four children.

Browne then put the knife in the kitchen sink, took her handbag and left the party.

She returned to the scene at about the same time the police arrived and claimed she couldn't remember what had happened.

Ms Stewart's mother, Sharlene Stewart, told the court her daughter was a loving mother to her two sons.

She said the family still struggles to understand what happened.

"Shame on you Anna Browne, how dare you murder our beautiful Carly, what did Carly to deserve this?

"What did Carly do to deserve this? You gave Carly no chance to defend herself."

She said the two boys are still scared and sleep with weapons beside their beds.

In the dock, Browne wiped tears from her eyes as she listened to the victim impact statements being read out.

In handing down the sentence, Justice Wylie said Browne had a lengthy criminal record.

While most were for dishonesty offences, in 1995 she was convicted in the Youth Court of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

In 2004, Browne was convicted of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm over an incident involving a machete in which she was the getaway driver.

Despite Browne's lawyer, Marie Dyhrberg, telling the court that her client was aware of the impact of what she had done on Ms Stewart's family, Justice Wylie said Browne was still seeking to shift the blame over what had happened.

When the sentence was read out, the full public gallery remained silent.