An Australian woman who knocked out her wealthy boyfriend with a sedative-infused milkshake before gassing him with helium pumped into a plastic bag over his head, has been sentenced to 40 years in prison by an Australian court.
Natasha Beth Darcy, 46, was found guilty of the 2017 murder of her partner Mathew Dunbar, which she tried to make look like a suicide.
Inspired by an episode from the hit sitcom Frasier, she devised a plan to coverup the murder. She offered a friend $14,000 in cash to say her wealthy lover had been talking about suicide.
That backfired when the erstwhile friend turned the letter over to the authorities.
“I was watching an episode of Frasier when Niles needed him to lie in court and say he didn’t know that Niles was in love with Daphne,” Darcy wrote to a friend in 2020 in a letter used in her sentencing hearing. “It got me thinking, if only I could ask somebody to say that Mathew told them he was planning his suicide maybe a few or several days before he passed.”
Sentencing judge Julia Lonergan told Darcy that the earliest she could be released on parole is 2047, for a crime she deemed “stupid, clumsy and ugly.” The judge who sentenced her ruled that the murder was devised so that she would inherit her boyfriend’s $2.4 million villa after she coerced him into revising his will.
The judge also reminded Darcy that her sentence reflected her life as a serial domestic abuser who had tried unsuccessfully to kill her previous husband. “I cannot find that the offender is a person of good character given her criminal record which included sentences of imprisonment for hitting her husband Colin Crossman on the head with a hammer whilst he slept and setting fire to their house with the admitted aim of obtaining the insurance money, larceny and multiple counts of dishonestly obtain property by deception involving the unauthorized use of the credit card of another man with whom the offender was in a domestic relationship,” Longeran told the court.
Darcy, who was on probation for the hammer and arson crimes against her ex when she met Dunbar online in 2014, also had a peculiar internet search history, which the prosecutor in her trial said included such terms as “spider venom,” “poisonous mushrooms,” “stabbed in the brain,” “suicide poem,” “how to commit murder,” and “if police have your mobile can they see websites.” She also searched “after suicide is house a crime scene” and “how long do internet providers keep history,” the last of which clearly helped lead to her undoing.
The judge said that Darcy’s premeditation was chilling. “As time passed… emotional abuse and sneaky physical attacks escalated into a more focused and foolproof method to achieve the outcome she desired,” the judge said at the hearing on Monday. “The offender was callous, relentless and heartless in her pursuit to get rid of Mathew. Her lies and methods were stupid, clumsy and ugly, but were sadly successful in achieving Mathew’s death. They were not, however, good enough to evade detection.”
Darcy, who has never admitted to murdering her boyfriend, claimed he suffered from depression and that he had threatened to kill himself many times because he was closeted gay. Her lawyer Janet Manuell admitted that her client’s actions were “suspicious” but that they could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Darcy’s conviction was upheld by Australia’s highest court and her options for dismissal have been exhausted.