Jessica Silva found guilty of manslaughter for stabbing abusive ex-partner

After suffering years of domestic violence, Jessica Silva has been found guilty of killing her estranged partner on Mother’s Day in 2012.


Silva began crying and hugging supporters in the minutes before they learnt a verdict was about to be delivered following five anxiety-ridden days of deliberation.

When her father Avalino accused the victim James Polkinghorne’s mother that “you could have stopped this”, it was Silva who came to her defence and asked for everyone to remain calm.

But her demeanour began to crumble when for the first time, the 24-year-old was asked to sit in the dock.

As the jury found her not guilty of Mr Polkinghorne’s murder, but guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter, Silva put her face in her hands and slumped forward.

Cries turned to screams as she lay down in the dock, sobbing and hyperventilating.

But she eventually calmed down as Justice Clifton Hoeben said he would continue her bail and he was considering a broad spectrum of sentences, including a non-custodial term.

Silva was accused of stabbing Mr Polkinghorne, 28, up to five times in the head and torso during a tussle outside her family home in Marrickville, in Sydney’s inner west, on Mother’s Day in 2012.

She pleaded not guilty on the basis of self-defence.

Over the course of her trial, the court was told that Silva’s four-year relationship with Mr Polkinghorne had been marred by physical and verbal abuse, including an incident in which he allegedly head-butted her.

The 24-year-old repeatedly broke down as the court was played phone conversations in which her estranged partner abuses and insults her, before threatening to “cave her face in”.

In one text sent to Silva on the day he was stabbed, Mr Polkinghorne wrote: “I hope your mother gets poisoned by the flowers that you give her and you get gang-raped.”

Later that day, Silva made a series of frantic phone calls to her brother Miguel saying: “He reckons he’s gonna come and kill me.”

After Miguel tells her to call the police, she replies: “Don’t worry I’ll f***ing stab him myself.”

The court heard Mr Polkinghorne had been dealing and taking the drug ice, and had become increasingly paranoid leading up to his death.

When Mr Polkinghorne arrived outside the family home that night, a tussle broke out between him, Silva, Miguel and their father, Avalino.

Silva went back into the home, grabbed a knife and then returned and stabbed him.

Silva’s barrister, Gregory Scragg, said all she had ever wanted was for Mr Polkinghorne to stop hurting her.

She will be sentenced in February.