Woman jailed 23 years for mother's murder

·2-min read

A West Australian woman has been jailed for 23 years after being found guilty of murdering her 71-year-old mother with a cushion in her northern Tasmanian home.

Natalie Maher, 48, had pleaded not guilty to murdering Veronica Corstorphine, whose severely decomposed body was discovered in her bed on October 29, 2019.

But after retiring on Friday the jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict on Monday in the Launceston Supreme Court.

Justice Robert Pearce sentenced Maher to 23 years in prison, backdated to November 7, 2019 - the date of her arrest.

She'll be eligible for parole after she's served 13 years.

"The deceased was a small and very slightly built person. You were younger and stronger," Justice Pearce told her on Monday.

"I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that, by holding a cushion over her face for long enough for her to die, you intended to cause her death."

He said the state forensic pathologist, Dr Donald Ritchie, explained in his evidence it would have taken between one and 10 minutes for death to result from smothering.

After killing her mother on the evening of October 3, 2019, Maher used her credit card to purchase air tickets and early on October 5 flew from Launceston to Perth.

Meantime, Justice Pearce said Maher had transferred all the funds in her mother's bank account, about $12,000, to her own account.

She then used the credit card again to advance $1000 cash to herself and left Tasmania with Ms Corstorphine's jewellery, computer tablet and mobile phone.

The judge said Maher's parents had separated when she was young and her relationship with your mother even then was difficult.

Maher had not lived with her mother since she was 16 but came from WA to live with her in Launceston two months before her death.

"You accepted her offer of help concerning your financial and personal circumstances, including issues with use of alcohol," Justice Pearce said.

"However, after you arrived, the long standing tensions in your relationship quickly re-emerged.

"I am satisfied that an escalation in your long held personal antagonism towards your mother was the primary motivation for the murder."

Maher was angered by Ms Corstorphine's persistent complaints about her drinking and how she should change her life.

It came to a head a day or two before the murder, when Maher found messages on her mother's phone, sent to others complaining about Maher's behaviour.

After an argument at dinner on October 2, Justice Pearce said it was likely that further conflict occurred during the evening of October 3 which caused Maher to commit the crime "through loss of self-control or passion, perhaps inflamed by consumption of alcohol".

"The possibility of financial gain may have played a part, but I find that you took the opportunity following the murder to take the money," he said.

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