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Tasmanian woman who choked her mother has appealed verdict

Daughter who killed her mother to appeal her jail sentence as police threatened to show her photos of decomposing body

  • Natalie Maher, 48, pleaded not guilty to the murder of Veronica Corstorphine, 71
  • But a jury disagreed and sentenced the WA woman to 23 years in prison
  • The jury found she was furious over complaints about her drinking problem
  • She appealed against ‘excessive’ punishment based on ‘oppressive’ police interrogation

A Western Australian woman who killed her 71-year-old mother in Tasmania by suffocating her with a pillow has argued that her 23-year prison sentence is too harsh, in part because of an ‘oppressive’ police interrogation.

Natalie Maher, 49, was found guilty last year of the October 2019 murder of Veronica Corstorphine, whose decomposed body was found in her bed nearly a month after her death.

Maher transferred approximately $12,000 from Mrs. Corstorphine’s bank account to her own account after the murder and fled Tasmania to WA with other items from her mother, including jewelry.

Maher had moved in with her mother in the northern city of Launceston about two months earlier, before “prolonged tensions” came to a head in the days before the murder.

Veronica Corstorphine (pictured), 71, was smothered in her Tasmanian home as a jury found her own daughter responsible

Maher’s appeal against the severity of the sentence, including an unconditional 13 years, was heard in Tasmania’s Court of Criminal Appeal on Tuesday.

Her attorney, Kim Baumeler, argued that a taped police interview with Maher in WA after her arrest should not have been used as evidence at trial.

Ms. Baumeler described the officer’s interrogation technique as oppressive and said he constantly undermined Maher’s right to remain silent.

“The other factor that could be considered oppressive is the threats to show (photos of) the deceased mother in decomposition,” Ms Baumeler said.

Natalie Maher, 48, was sentenced to 23 years in Tasmania's Supreme Court (pictured)

Natalie Maher, 48, was sentenced to 23 years in Tasmania’s Supreme Court (pictured)

The lengthy interview, which was played out in court, revealed that Maher regularly replied “no comment” to questions related to the investigation.

Her daughter also cleaned up Mrs Corstorphine's finances (pictured)

Her daughter has also cleaned up Mrs Corstorphine’s finances (pictured)

At one point, when the officer said she was in a “world of pain,” Maher replied, “I don’t know what to tell you, other than what I’ve told you.”

State attorney John Ransom agreed that part of the interview was “over the top” but said Maher remained relatively calm given the topic.

“She was able to deny very evidential cases. She didn’t seem to misunderstand,’ he said.

‘The general manner and conduct of the police officer … was well within the purview of being reasonable.

“(Maher) knew of her ability to say ‘no comment’ to any question.”

Maher also alleges that there was a miscarriage of law in admitting opinion evidence by state forensic pathologist Dr. Donald Ritchie at trial.

The court of three judges will rule at a later date.

In sentencing last November, Judge Robert Pearce said Maher committed the crime “through loss of self-control or passion, perhaps ignited by alcohol consumption.”

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