7 May 2015

Prison for Linwood woman's murder

1:26 pm on 7 May 2015

A man convicted of murdering his on-again-off-again girlfriend in her home in Linwood has been sentenced to almost 12 years in prison at the High Court in Christchurch.

Tim Foley in the High Court in Christchurch

Tim Foley in the High Court in Christchurch Photo: POOL

Tim Foley, 55, killed 41-year-old Michelle Lawrence - who was also his neighbour - when he entered her home in June 2012 and beat her with an iron crowbar.

Ms Lawrence died in hospital three weeks after the attack, and though there were a series of scheduled trials that fell through, Foley eventually pleaded guilty.

Justice Mander sentenced him this morning to 11 years and eight months without parole.

The judge said he had established a starting point of 12 years without parole but reduced it by four months because of Foley's guilty plea.

Family members had asked Justice Mander to impose the maximum sentence.

Ms Lawrence's mother, Christine Lawrence, said she had thought childbirth was the worst pain a woman could suffer but she was mistaken.

"I now know that is not the worst pain. Losing a child to a violent act is - because there is nothing to hold at the end," she said.

"I felt I had failed her as a mother because it was the one time I couldn't help my daughter. I have never felt so helpless."

The victim's brother, Mark Lawrence, said the family was relieved the two-and-a-half-year court process was finished.

"Though no sentence would ever be enough for the taking of our sister, daughter, mother and friend's life, and no penalty imposed on Foley is ever going to bring Michelle back, we can rest assured that this man is not going to have any ability to harm another person."