Experiencing flashbacks after 17 years of abuse at the hands of her husband, a woman grabbed a kitchen knife as he slept and murdered him.
Thi Bich Huynh told police she had “bad memories” of violence and threats made by her 49-year-old husband Quoc Dung Bui before stabbing him in the bedroom of their Sydney apartment.
Feeling “really scared”, she took the kitchen knife and pushed the blade into his neck once, severing his jugular vein and spinal cord, as he lay sleeping in their Bankstown home on March 28, 2021.
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“She said at the time she could not control herself so she just stabbed him,” said Justice Stephen Campbell on Monday.
After a brief hearing in the NSW Supreme Court, the judge found Huynh had murdered her partner but that she had a mental impairment which meant she did not know her actions were morally wrong.
This special verdict means the 40-year-old will not go to jail but will instead undergo mental health assessments and rehabilitation.
The man was stabbed to death in Bankstown in 2021. Credit: 7NEWS
He accepted evidence from two expert psychiatrists that she had post-traumatic stress disorder, severe depression and anxiety at the time of the stabbing.
Experiencing sleep disturbance, fatigue, dizziness, loss of balance and breathing problems, she sought help from mental health professionals before the killing and had been prescribed anti-depressants.
Huynh exhibited common patterns of behaviour seen in individuals with “battered woman syndrome” and “Stockholm syndrome”, psychiatrist Dr Olav Neilssen said.
After stabbing her husband, she attempted to kill herself.
Her mental state meant she felt the need to protect herself from the actions of Bui and heightened her perception of the threat he posed.
Arriving in Australia from Vietnam when she was 12 years old, Huynh had a normal childhood, Campbell said.
He agreed with the psychiatric experts that her husband’s abuse had created a “clinically significant” disturbance in her mental processes.
“In my view, the proposition that she felt trapped and was prone to disassociation associated with fear resulting in anxiety and mood disturbance would have resulted in severe distortion of thoughts and impaired judgement,” said psychiatrist Dr Adam Martin.
Campbell acknowledged it would be difficult for Bui’s family to hear these findings, saying that domestic violence often occurred behind closed doors.
He also said that there was no excuse for murder, including domestic violence, and that the sanctity of human life was a fundamental community standard.
Huynh will now be referred to the Mental Health Review Tribunal which will determine where she will be housed and what treatment she will undergo.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.
If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondblue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.
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