A Queensland woman has been jailed for fatally mixing her husband’s soup with prescription drugs

Judith Ann Venn mixed her husband’s soup with prescription drugs, which led to an overdose because she believed it was the only solution to an “unbearable and hopeless” situation.

The 69-year-old Queensland woman, who pleaded guilty to the negligent murder of her husband Lance Hilton Venn, was sentenced to jail on Friday.

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After almost three years behind bars, she can immediately apply for parole.

The Supreme Court found that Venn was unable to cope as a caregiver for her husband, whose bipolar disorder and manic depression had worsened significantly over the past 18 months, leaving him restless and aggressive towards others.

On the morning of August 14, 2020, Venn was hoping for some relief managing her husband, who was in his 40s, as he was scheduled to see a psychologist that day.

But 64-year-old Lance Venn ended up at her daughter’s house during one of his late-night excursions in the early hours of the morning.

Police are investigating the death of Lance Hilton Venn at the Alexandra Hills home. Credit: 7NEWS

Judith Venn canceled the appointment and when Lance returned to her home in Alexandra Hills, south-east of Brisbane, she overdosed on him a portion of vegetable soup she had prepared the previous day, into which she dissolved 50 prescribed pills.

She slit his wrist while he was unconscious, but his cause of death turned out to be an overdose.

Judith Venn wrote a letter saying she didn’t want her family to have to live with the stress she was experiencing and that Lance Venn pushed her over the edge.

She attempted suicide and later told police she didn’t want anyone else, particularly her daughters, to have to look after her husband.

Psychiatrists determined that Judith Venn suffered from severe depression, excessive stress and thought disorders.

This added to the thought and despair at the time of the offence.

The court heard that Venn downplayed and concealed her husband’s physical aggression towards her, likely out of shame, loyalty to him and a desire to spare her children further trouble.

“Unbearable and Hopeless”

Worsening Venn’s cognitive distortions, characterized by all-or-nothing catastrophic thinking, limited her ability to problem-solve or make rational decisions, Brisbane Supreme Court Justice Frances Williams said.

“Under the circumstances, you have been led to believe that the only solution to an unbearable and hopeless situation is for you and the deceased to die.”

Judge Williams sentenced Venn to eight years and six months in prison and ordered that she be immediately eligible to apply for parole.

The verdict took into account that Venn was not a danger to the community and had suffered physical, verbal and emotional abuse.

“The particular circumstances of the offense arose out of a tragic chain of events, including the deceased’s mental illness leading to your own mental illness, and your taking significant steps towards rehabilitation,” Judge Williams told Venn.

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.

In an emergency, call 000.

If you need help during a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For more information on depression contact beyondblue on 1300224636 or speak to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.

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James Brien

James Brien is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. James Brien joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: jamesbrien@24ssports.com.

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