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Murrumbateman woman charged with murder tells NSW Supreme Court she does not recall shooting her husband

A Murrumbateman woman is on trial for the murder of her husband in August 2021. (ABC News: Adriane Reardon)

A Murrumbateman woman on trial for the alleged murder of her husband has told the New South Wales Supreme Court she has no memory of shooting him.

WARNING: This story contains content that may be distressing to some readers.

Dale Vella, 54, was charged with murder after police found her husband, Mark Vella, dead at their home on August 9, 2021.

The Supreme Court was told that the couple had only moved to Murrumbateman, in the New South Wales Southern Tablelands, in the months before the shooting.

That was because they had been apart while Mr Vella ran the family business in Canberra and Mrs Vella had been working on the Central Coast of New South Wales.

'I was frightened of his temper'

In the stand on Tuesday Mrs Vella detailed allegations of years of emotional abuse.

She said the couple was always short of money, but her husband would want to spend up on items — including boats and cars — to live a more lavish lifestyle, leaving her to fund the loans.

"I did not want him angry. I wanted him happy," Mrs Vella said.

"I was frightened of his temper.

"I felt like I was walking on eggshells all my life." 

Mrs Vella said she did not leave Mr Vella because he threatened to take the children and make her life miserable.

However, she told the court that she wanted the marriage to continue.

"I loved my husband," she said.

Mrs Vella said things were difficult because Mr Vella would often say harsh things.

"And then, in the next breath, he'd tell you how much he loved you," she said.

When challenged about telling a doctor there was only verbal abuse, Mrs Vella said there had been some violence.

"He only hit me twice," she said.

The court was told that Mrs Vella had had to undergo a double mastectomy because she had breast cancer.

She told the court when she expressed concern to her husband that she did not feel like a woman anymore, he had replied:

"You do not look like one either."

She told the jury he had cut her chemotherapy short, telling her she didn't need it anymore.

Later, she said, their sex life had suffered, and Mr Vella had taunted her.

"Might as well roll you over and screw you from behind because you look like a bloke with that chest," she said Mr Vella had told her.

"Mark was a breast man, he liked big breasts," Mrs Vella said.

Mrs Vella told the jury in the lead up to her husband's death they were under intense financial stress.

She said she had been taking St John's wort to help with her anxiety, but stopped around then to take an anti-depressant prescribed by a doctor, but which she was told shouldn't be taken at the same time as the St John's wort.

Mrs Vella said she had intended to kill herself that day, after she'd paid out money owed by the business.

The court was told that, earlier in the day, she had made a video for her children.

"I just wanted to die," Mrs Vella said.

"I wanted the day over."

She said she remembered getting the gun in preparation.

"I know at some point I put it under the bed," she said.

However, she said, she has no memory of the shooting.

"I remember sitting on a chair," she said.

"I remember being taken out in handcuffs because the cold air hit me."

She also told the court she remembered her daughter saying: "Mummy".

Prosecutors question accused's account of anti-depressant use

In court, prosecutors challenged her account, pointing to the couple's new car, the purchase of quad bikes for each of them, inheritances, a spa at their house on the Central Coast of New South Wales, and her trips to get manicures.

A key part of the case has been regular prescriptions issued to Mrs Vella for the anti-depressant she had taken before the shooting.

Mrs Vella said she was getting it for her husband, even though it was in her name.

She rejected the prosecution's suggestions that she was playing down the fact that she had previously used the drug without any side effects, saying she only took it for a short time before her husband intervened.

"I didn't take it because my husband told me it would make me fat," Mrs Vella said.

The court was told that Mr Vella had prescriptions for the same drug in his own name in the house at the time of his death.

Mrs Vella rejected suggestions that she was making up her account about the medication.

The case is continuing.

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