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Neve Brissenden

Wife sentenced for 'beloved' husband's murder

A woman will spend up to 24 years in jail for shooting dead her sleeping husband. (Angela Brkic/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

Mark Anthony Vella's life as a loving father, farmer and husband was violently ended when he was shot dead in his sleep.

His wife, Dale Lee Vella, has been sentenced for up to 24 years' jail for his murder, which a judge says may never be understood.

"It is clear (Dale Vella) murdered her husband," Justice Helen Wilson said during sentencing on Friday in the NSW Supreme Court.

"Why it occurred is much less clear and may never be known."

The couple had had a relatively normal day on their Murrumbateman property before Mr Vella was killed in August 2021.

Dale Vella had noticed one of their dogs was missing and the pair rode together on their quadbike to find the pet.

They then stacked firewood inside and had dinner with their friend David Borg and daughter Georgia.

Later that night, Vella put a gun to her husband's right eye as he slept and shot him at close range. He died instantly.

Mr Borg was woken by a loud bang and a knock at his door.

Dale Vella told him to call an ambulance and said "I was going to shoot myself, but I shot him".

He then called an ambulance and woke up Georgia, who later "tortured herself" over what she could have done to help her father.

"There was nothing she or anyone else could have done to assist him," Justice Wilson said.

Vella never denied killing her husband at their home on the NSW southern tablelands, though she pleaded guilty to manslaughter instead.

Her barrister Greg Hoare told the Supreme Court jury to find her not guilty of murder, arguing she had a substantial mental impairment at the time.

In a statement read by crown prosecutor Kate Ratcliffe during Vella's sentencing hearing, Mr Borg remembered making the ambulance call, knowing his friend would not survive, and how it has haunted him since.

"It saddens me you thought your only two options were suicide or murder Dale," he wrote.

"I will never have another friend like Mark."

In a police interview after her arrest, Vella said she had endured years of psychological abuse at the hands of her husband.

In a video recorded on her phone before the shooting she said to the camera, "I just can't live like this anymore, I've let him abuse (their children) emotionally for years, I've tried leaving, but he doesn't care about anybody but himself".

"None of the children believed he'd abused them or their mother, each spoke of him as a loving father," Justice Wilson said on Friday

The jury found her guilty of murder the same day it retired.

"So many have suffered and will continue to suffer for her crime," Justice Wilson said.

"The court does not accept the demonisation of Mr Vella."

The couple's children sat tearfully at the back of the court on Friday as their mother was sentenced.

Vella will be eligible for parole in February 2039.

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