Life with minimum 10 years for Christmas Day murder

Violence and alcohol had become a way of life for the 24-year-old woman who has now begun a life sentence for the Christmas Day murder of her partner with a stab to the heart.

The woman, Franchesca Kororia Borell, had never appeared in court before she stabbed 26-year-old Hardeep Singh on December 25, 2016.

But at her sentencing in the High Court at Christchurch, Justice Cameron Mander said Borell had acknowledged a history of abusing alcohol and a tendency to resort to violence, after suffering domestic abuse from a previous partner.

“This is why you resort to violence at times of stress in your personal relationships,” he said, noting that she was assessed as being a high risk to others in an intimate relationship where alcohol and cannabis were present.

Justice Mander said: “Despite your lack of prior offending, violence and alcohol had become a way of life for you.”

At her trial in October, Borell admitted manslaughter but denied the murder charge, claiming that she had thrown the kitchen knife at Mr Singh after an argument, and had not intended to kill him.

The Crown continued with the trial, with prosecutor Barnaby Hawes saying it was most likely she had stabbed him rather than thrown the knife and her actions amounted to murder. The jury returned a rapid guilty verdict.

Borell is the mother of a young daughter who is being cared for by her grandmother.

The family of the victim said in a joint statement, read out in court by a victim adviser, that they were “left with a life sentence of loss”.

They said Hardeep Singh had been studying and working to support his parents in India and their lives had changed forever with his death. They had felt helpless being so far away.

Mr Singh had worked and studied hard to get many academic and professional qualifications in India and had furthered his studies in New Zealand. He was a much loved member of the family.

Defence counsel Phil Shamy urged that the lowest level of non-parole term – 10 years – be imposed as part of the life sentence. There was no basis to say Borell lacked remorse, and she had asked him to express her apologies to the family of the victim.

“She has made a significant and unfortunately lethal error which she will pay for, for the rest of her life,” Mr Shamy said.

Justice Mander said the murder had been devastating for the victim’s family and the sentencing would not ease that pain.

He said Borell and Mr Singh had been in a relationship for several months and were living at a Cashmere address where they were house-sitting.

They argued on Christmas day. She said she was leaving him, but when he prevented her from leaving by blocking her way she became very angry. She picked up a large kitchen knife. She claimed to have thrown it, but the judge said he considered that was unlikely.

He considered she had used the knife to inflict a single stab wound to the chest which caused considerable internal bleeding. Borell rang emergency services in a distressed state – the recording was played at the trial – and tried to help Mr Singh but he died in hospital two days later.

Borell later said that she had been sad and depressed about not having her daughter with her. She had resorted to drinking alcohol on Christmas morning and had argued with Mr Singh throughout the day.

The judge decided to impose a 10-year non-parole term as part of the life sentence, but he said Borell would not be released until the Parole Board decided her behaviour warranted it.

He told her: “Alcohol, and now a manifest propensity to resort to violence a times of stress, present significant hurdles for you to overcome.”

He urged her to engage in cultural programmes, and address her alcohol and drug issues during her sentence, or she would serve longer than the non-parole term imposed.