A woman who stabbed her secret lover in a jealous rage after learning he cheated on her will spend at least the next eight years in jail.
In a brutal love triangle tragedy, Jenny Niguidula stabbed Rhonie Apostol — her husband’s brother-in-law — with a kitchen knife in their Sydney home on November 17, 2019.
Apostol was found dead, laying on his back in an apartment bathroom in the west Sydney suburb of South Wentworthville.
A jury found her guilty of murder in June after she proclaimed her innocence to the charge but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
The Supreme Court heard Niguidula stabbed 53-year-old Apostol after discovering he had cheated on her with a nurse in Manila, causing the pair to erupt into a heated argument at Sydney International Airport a week before the stabbing.
Upon learning of the deceit through text messages found on Apostol’s phone, the 47-year-old cried for hours in the airport bathroom and then punched Apostol in the head.
The pair were themselves having an affair as Niguidula was married to Apostol’s brother-in-law and Apostol was married to a woman in the United States, where he permanently lived. He would visit Australia regularly and worked for Niguidula, the court was told.
During sentencing remarks on Monday, Justice Hament Dhanji said Niguidula “succumbed at times to rage in context of her Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)”.
Reading agreed facts, he said it was clear Niguidula wanted to share her life with Apostol but was overcome with anger in the week proceeding the murder.
That anger was sparked by the knowledge Apostol cheated on her with a nurse who had been caring for his sick mother in the Philippines.
She was also angry about the growing debts Apostol owed her and the suspicion he wanted to leave her to return to his wife in the US, despite them having agreed to adopt a child.
The court heard the pair had been dating since 2011 and Niguidula was deeply affected by the miscarriage of their baby.
In a recorded interview following the murder outlined by Justice Dhanji, Niguidula recalled a version of events on the day of the killing.
She said she argued with Apostol in the morning about money, then “ate some biscuits and drank moscato and vodka” and went for a walk. She said she had been angry since learning of his infidelity a week earlier but they had moments of happiness where they were seen shopping hand-in-hand.
When she returned home, she threw up, went back to sleep and woke up thinking about the miscarriage and cheating, saying to Apostol: “you took away 10 years of my life — my baby is dead because of you”.
She told police Niguidula apologised and vowed to change, saying he wanted to go to the mall and buy her Airpods.
She said she woke up hours later by an inaudible sound from the bathroom and saw him lying on the ground with a knife beside him and a wounded chest.
She told police she dressed his wound and eventually called emergency services for help, but denied stabbing him.
Family members also called to the scene told the trial Niguidula was seen holding Apostol’s hand, crying and slapping him on the face, saying “stop joking and wake up” as they awaited police to arrive.
While she was initially released from the police station without being charged, police obtained recorded phone calls and recorded her viewing Apostol’s body in the morgue, which revealed incriminating messages and words.
She was arrested on December 12, 2019 and has been in jail since.
Niguidula was found to have died from a single stab wound to the ribs, the court heard.
Justice Dhanji said that while the jury found Niguidula guilty of murder, he could not be satisfied she acted with intent to kill and he was “satisfied beyond the balance on probabilities she did not intend to cause more than grievous bodily harm”.
He said two doctors told the trial she was either diagnosed or showed symptoms of BPD and that she recalled a tendency to act violently in periods of extreme emotional stress.
“I find the accused’s capacity to control herself was likely to be impaired at the time, given her level of emotional dysregulation,” Justice Dhanji said, adding she accepted responsibility for the death at trial.
“The offending appears to be impulsive with limited planning … the fact she dressed the wound and eventually called for help shows she regretted her actions,” he said.
But he said the offences occurred in a domestic violence setting at Apostol’s temporary place of residence, where he was entitled to feel safe.
Niguidula sat stone-faced as she was sentenced to 16 years in prison, backdated to December 12, 2019.
Justice Dhanji gave her a non-parole period of 12 years, which will expire on December 11, 2031.