A woman who was jailed for murdering her partner to inherit his multimillion-dollar property has been slapped with more prison time for offering a friend at least $20,000 to give a false statement to police.
Natasha Beth Darcy was convicted in June last year of murdering Mathew Dunbar on August 2, 2017 at his $3.4m sheep farm at Walcha, in the NSW New England region.
She sedated Mr Dunbar, 42, with a cocktail of drugs, including an animal sedative, then suffocated him with helium she fed into a plastic bag.
Darcy, who is often referred to as the Widow of Walcha, was sentenced to 40 years in prison, with a non-parole period of 30 years.
On Wednesday, she faced the Dubbo District Court via video link from prison where she pleaded guilty to a charge of acting with intent to pervert the course of justice.
Darcy wrote two letters while in custody to a childhood friend in January 2020, asking her to give false information to police regarding Darcy’s trial.
Judge Craig Smith read the letter to the court, in which Darcy likened the situation to an episode of the sitcom Frasier.
“I’ve been going through the brief of evidence and its amazing how people lie and seem to have been manipulated by the police,” she said.
“Some lies I can prove … others are their word against mine.
“I was watching an episode of Frasier when Niles needed him to lie in court and say he didn’t know that Niles was in love with Daphne, so that Niles could get a clean divorce.
“Frasier knew that the opposition was using dirty tactics and the correct thing would be for Niles to win. However, he struggled with the moral dilemma.
“It got me thinking that if only I could ask someone to say that Mathew was planning his suicide maybe a few or several days before he passed.
“I’m going to make you a proposition and see if you can be the one to help me.
“Please don’t judge me. There is no pressure here. Your friendship is the most important thing.
“Once I am found not guilty … then I automatically get the inheritance … I would be willing to give you $20,000.”
Darcy then gave instructions to her friend about what to say.
The friend did not respond to the letter and pretended she did not receive it when they next spoke.
Judge Smith said general deterrence was a significant sentencing factor.
“It was not a one-off attempt,” he said.
“The follow-up letter offered more (money) in the sense of ‘as much as you need.’
“Whilst the offence before me was not overly sophisticated … it involved planning. It was not at all spontaneous.”
Judge Smith found Darcy had no remorse, but said it was unlikely she would be a risk to the community by the time she was freed from prison.
He sentenced Darcy to three years in prison and said it should begin to be served on February 17, 2046.
She will have a non-parole period of two years and three months.
It means she will effectively need to serve an additional non-parole period of six months.
During the Supreme Court murder trial, the jury was shown internet searches from Darcy’s electronic devices that included “99 undetectable poisons”, “spider venom”, “how to commit murder” and “can police see past web history”.
Darcy argued Mr Dunbar took his own life, and she pleaded guilty to assisted suicide but prosecutors rejected her plea.
The court was told Darcy sent a fake suicide note from Mr Dunbar’s phone to her paramedic ex-husband Colin Crossman that read: “Tell police to come to house, I don’t want Tash or kids to find me.”
During the sentencing, Justice Julia Lonergan said Darcy had been “callous, relentless, and heartless” with the pursuit to murder her partner.
“Greed was her motive. Deception, lies and manipulation were quickly applied before and after she killed him,” Justice Lonergan said.
“Her lies and methods were stupid, clumsy and ugly, but were sadly successful in achieving Mathew’s death … they were not however good enough to evade detection.”
Justice Lonergan also said the murder involved a “very high degree of planning for well over three months”.
“The offender has shown nothing remotely resembling remorse or contrition,” she said.