10:00am Wednesday 30th May 2012
By Joanna Davis
A WOMAN has been handed a life sentence for murdering a ‘kind and gentle’ man.
Carol Kemp shook in the dock as she was found guilty of murdering her partner Martin Rusling, 44, who she met on a dating website.
Sentencing, Mrs Justice Linda Dobbs said Kemp would serve a minimum term of 13 years.
She told her: “You thought you had found someone you loved who treated you well.
“You gave evidence on what a kind person Martin was.
“The statement from his sister confirms what a kind and gentle person he was, always trying to help people.
“You have to live with the knowledge that you killed the person you professed to love.”
A jury at Winchester Crown Court found Kemp, 45, of Torquay, Devon guilty of murder following a four-day trial.
She stabbed Mr Rusling through the heart with a kitchen knife in the early hours of December 28 after a row about her moving in with him. Kemp, originally from Burnley, Lancashire, denied charges of murdering and unlawfully killing Mr Rusling.
The couple met on an internet dating website in spring 2011 and spent Christmas together at Mr Rusling’s home in Park Road, Easton.
Mr Rusling, who grew up in Weymouth, worked as a laminator for Tods Aerospace Defence, in Wide Street, Portland.
The court previously heard that Kemp had a history of self-harm and had been in abusive relationships. Kemp claimed that Mr Rusling was stabbed ‘accidentally’ when he grabbed the kitchen knife that she said she was trying to kill herself with.
Mrs Justice Dobbs said: “The jury heard you give evidence and rejected your evidence.
“There’s evidence of some violence and a struggle. On your own admission you pulled Mr Rusling’s neck chain and he had scratches all over his face which suggests that violence was used. There was some kind of tussle.
“The court finds that you picked up the knife and used it.
“I do not accept the submission that you picked up the knife to use on yourself.”
Kemp’s personal circumstances were taken into account when deciding her sentence, Mrs Justice Dobbs said.
She said: “You’ve been in care since the age of six. You had to give your children away and you’ve been prescribed anti-psychotic medications.
“You have vulnerabilities and found it hard to keep up with the demands of real life.
“Meeting someone like Martin Rusling gave you hope, perhaps false hope, of a life of normality.” Mrs Justice Dobbs told the court a report by a consultant psychiatrist found that Kemp had borderline personality disorder, adjustment disorder, suffered from depression and there was evidence to suggest emotional personality disorder.
The court heard Kemp will serve a minimum of 13 years in jail based on the 150 days she has already spent on remand.
Following the verdict, District Crown Prosecutor for CPS Wessex, Richard Oakley said: “Carol Kemp killed Martin Rusling by stabbing him through his heart in a moment of rage.
“The defendant when arrested initially told the police that she did not mean to kill him and appeared to take responsibility for Mr Rusling’s injuries.
“She maintained this version for two days and then gave a new statement where she said that Mr Rusling was accidentally stabbed while he tried to stop her committing suicide.
“The jury today, after hearing both the prosecution and the defence case was satisfied that Kemp had intended to kill Mr Rusling.”
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