First in 2008, after the couple moved to a small isolated area of regional Victoria, and then again in 2012.
But she lost custody of their two children on both occasions.
When she came back after the second separation, Noel Payne had moved a younger woman into their Walpeup home.
Mr Payne subjected both women to an insidious onslaught on abuse, forcing them to tattoo his name on their bodies so that no other man would want them.
He would not let his wife shower alone. He wanted her to be a certain weight, and controlled all the household finances. He would go with her to doctor’s appointments and interrogate her afterwards.
He cut off her contact from her family and, when her son was murdered, he did not let her to go to his funeral.
Then, on September 1 2020, Payne crushed up several sleeping pills and put them into the icing of a homemade biscuit. She gave the biscuit to her husband with a cup of Milo.
Once he passed out, she wrapped him in a blanket, secured it with duct tape and put him in a backyard chest freezer.
Three days later, she asked a neighbour to look after the freezer, saying it was broken and full rotten meat.
The neighbour’s son became suspicious and opened it, finding Mr Payne’s body inside.
A Supreme Court jury found Payne guilty of her 68-year-old husband’s murder in March, after a three-week trial in Mildura.
Prosecutors claimed the 43-year-old did not need to kill Mr Payne, she could have just left.
However, Justice Rita Incerti rejected that argument on Thursday.
“You were living in intolerable circumstances,” she told the court, “you had no realistic option to leave.”
While there was no justifiable reason to kill Mr Payne, the judge decided to show mercy in her prison sentence, she said.
“Your claim for mercy is compelling,” she said.
Justice Incerti handed Payne a lower than usual head sentence of 16 years, with a minimum 10 years before she can apply for parole.
She said it was impossible to separate the impact the “insidious abuse” had on Payne from her motive to murder him.
“You were trapped in an abusive, violent and cruel environment for over a decade,” the judge said.
Payne’s rehabilitation prospects were excellent, she had already shown improvement in the two years and seven months she has been in jail.
“You have worked hard to ensure that you leave a better person than when you arrived,” Justice Incerti said.
Mr Payne’s daughter, sister-in-law and niece spoke of their heartbreak over his murder, in statements to the court.
In a letter, Payne said she was deeply remorseful and will spend “the rest of my days trying to make amends” for the crime.
She listened intently to the judge’s remarks from a dock at the back of the room and smiled as she was escorted out by custody officers.
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