A Rotorua woman who confessed to murdering her friend and lover last year has been sentenced to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years.
Gwenda Leigh Sloane, aka Pluss, 44, was sentenced in the High Court in Rotorua today after earlier pleading guilty to murdering Michelle Hoffman-Tamm in November.
Michelle Hoffman Tamm was found dead.
Michelle, 51, disappeared on November 7 last year after leaving the Rotorua home in Philip Street she shared with her long-term female partner to visit a friend.
Police found her body on November 23 in a forested area just off State Highway 38 near Murupara.
The police summary of facts stated the two women had been friends for more than 20 years and were involved in a sexual relationship together.
The summary says Sloane invited Michelle to her home where they drank beer and had sex. At some point during the evening Sloane accused Michelle of stealing $20 from her wallet. Sloane then attacked Michelle, stabbing her multiple times in the chest and back. After Michelle was dead, Sloane cut off both her ears, putting one in Michelle’s mouth.
Police believe most of the stab wounds were admitted after Michelle had died, including a cut across the throat and a large cut across her face.
Michelle’s body then lay on the kitchen floor at Sloane’s house for more than 24 hours.
On November 9, Sloane wrapped the body in plastic bags using duct tape and drove towards Whakatane looking for somewhere to dispose it.
She buried the body 120km away in a 1.5m deep ditch beside SH38 near Murupara, covering it in rubbish and dirt. On her return home she hired a domestic carpet cleaning machine to clean up the house.
Sloane was spoken to three times by police during their investigation into Michelle’s disappearance, but she offered no assistance.
When police returned on November 22, Sloane confessed and led police to the body. Police say they would not have found it without her help.
Sloane told police she recalled only parts of what happened but remembered attacking Michelle, and punching her and stabbing her.