Peter Shellard and Shirley Withers pictured in December 2002. Picture: Darryl Gregory Source: Herald Sun
A Melbourne woman who injected her bound de facto partner with heroin has been resentenced to 13 years jail for manslaughter after a murder conviction was quashed.
Shirley Withers, 43, formerly of East Bentleigh, befriended two drug addicts who helped tie Peter Shellard up with rope and electric cord after Withers told them he forced her to take part in sexual bondage.
Withers later injected Mr Shellard, 56, with heroin and left him abandoned in his bedroom.
The body of Mr Shellard, a real estate agent who later went into the house restoration business, was found bound in his mansion in North Caulfield on May 7, 2005.
Withers had also hoped to compel Mr Shellard to sign over ownership of properties, prosecutors said during her 2007 trial.
Prior to Mr Shellard being injected with heroin he had a struggle with the two drug addicts in which he was struck to the head.
Last December, Victorian Court of Appeal justices Peter Buchanan, David Ashley and Mark Weinberg ruled that the murder conviction and 26-year jail term with an 18-year minimum, should be quashed and Withers should be resentenced for manslaughter.
On Friday, Withers was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of nine years.
In their judgment the appeal justices noted that Mr Shellard had a heart condition which contributed to his death and had suffered a blow to his head before Withers injected him with heroin.
"The medical evidence was that this death had been brought about by a combination of the blows to his head ... the injection of heroin and the fact that he had an occluded artery," the justices wrote.
They said given that heroin could interfere with the body's control mechanisms for breathing, the injuries that Mr Shellard sustained to his head could have made him more vulnerable to heroin.
But they said the evidence fell short of an intention by Withers to kill or cause really serious injury.
However, the justices said it was a serious example of manslaughter.
"The deceased neither asked to be injected with heroin, nor consented to being dealt with in that way," they said.
"His home was broken into, he was assaulted, tied up, and had heroin injected against his will.
"Even accepting that the appellant was unaware that the deceased had a heart condition at the time, she certainly knew that he had sustained, at the very least, significant injury to his head."
Following Mr Shellard's death, Withers had asked an undercover police officer, whom she believed was a hitman, to murder her co-offenders.
She pleaded guilty to two charges of incitement to murder her accomplices.
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