A new mother who suffered from undiagnosed postpartum depression when she stabbed her partner in the neck while bending over to kiss their baby boy has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison.
Most important points:
- Leese stabbed her partner twice as he bent down to kiss their baby
- Her lawyer said she was struggling as a new mom at the time
- The judge said she had to accept responsibility for her actions
In July 2019, Melissa Amy Leese, 28, armed herself with a kitchen knife before luring the 27-year-old into a bedroom by suggesting that he say goodbye to the baby boy before leaving for work.
When he got up, she attacked him from behind with the four-inch knife, stabbing him twice to the base of the neck.
He turned and she stabbed him in the left shoulder a third time before a brief struggle ensued and he managed to stop her.
Leese then said to the man, “It’s either you or I… do you want to kill me?”
The victim, who had two stab wounds that required stitching, was taken to hospital by relatives, while Lesse, who had left the house, turned himself in to police later in the day.
Prosecutor Ben Stanwix told the Supreme Court that Leese falsely claimed in interviews with detectives that she acted in self-defense because her partner had been aggressive towards her.
She later told a psychologist that she could not remember the specific details of what she had done.
Postpartum Depression Undiagnosed
Leese was originally charged with attempted murder, but she eventually pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of doing an act with intent to harm, endangering a person’s life, health or safety.
Attorney Melissa McEwen said the stabbing happened when her client was struggling as a new mother, was sleep deprived and suffered from anxiety and undiagnosed postpartum depression.
Ms McKewen said Leese also claimed she was subjected to verbal, emotional, physical and financial abuse by the victim.
Ms McKewen urged the court to show an “element of grace” in the case and impose a suspended jail term, saying Lesse’s rehabilitation would be best if she was in the community.
But the prosecution argued that an immediate jail term was necessary, with Mr Stanwix describing the case as “bizarre” and emphasizing that Leese’s intention was to inflict a life-threatening injury on her partner.
Leese wiped away tears when Judge Anthony Derrick said he was pleased the attack took place in the context of her suffering from undiagnosed postpartum depression.
He also accepted that Leese was sleep deprived, felt unsupported, had anxiety issues, and personality traits that affected her ability to act calmly and rationally.
Mutual domestic violence
However, he said that while those problems had a “causal link” to her transgression, they only lessened her guilt by a small amount, and she was aware at all times that what she was doing was wrong.
Justice Derrick also noted that the domestic violence in the relationship was mutual and that both Leese and the man had abused alcohol and illegal drugs.
He described the attack as “a needless act of significant violence”, saying there was “a degree of premeditation” and that Leese had “orchestrated” her partner to put “in a vulnerable position to make it happen for her.” make it easier to stab him”.
He said that while the victim’s injuries were not significant, the stabbing could have had more serious consequences, causing a penetrating wound to one of his major blood vessels.
Justice Derrick also said he was not convinced that Leese had fully accepted responsibility for her actions, nor that she had any regrets if she could be.
He said a suspended prison sentence would not be appropriate and sentenced Leese, who had no criminal record, to an immediate prison term of three years and ten months.
She will have to serve half the sentence before she can be released on parole.
The man did not file a victim statement with the court, which was told that he had expressly requested that Leese not be housed for life, which usually happens in such cases.