LYING on her back with her neighbour desperately trying to stab her in the heart, Denise Pederson thought she was going to die.
Her neighbour, William Sampson, who moments earlier had negotiated his way inside her Belmont unit with promises of ending their long-running dispute, thought so too.
“You’re going to die,” Sampson, 64, repeated as he struggled to deliver the fatal blow. But Mrs Pederson would not go without a fight.
After the initial shock, adrenaline kicked in and the courageous 65-year-old mustered all her strength to hold the knife away from her chest and struggle for her life.
“My will to live, Bill Sampson, was stronger than your ability to kill,” Denise Pederson said in Newcastle District Court on Thursday, looking her attacker in the eye.
Sampson, who pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent to murder, has never shown any remorse and told police he tried to kill Mrs Pederson because he thought it was his only option to end their long-running feud.
On Thursday, Judge Roy Ellis sentenced Sampson to a maximum jail term of 11 years and three months, with a non-parole period of eight years.
For more than 18 months, Mrs Pederson and Sampson, who lived in the same unit block on the Pacific Highway, had been locked in a bitter dispute.
There were allegations of property damage, verbal abuse and assault.
Then, on September 12, 2016, Sampson knocked on Mrs Pederson’s door and talked his way inside with offers of peace.
Mrs Pederson didn’t know but he was hiding a knife behind his back.
When he was inside, Sampson suddenly lashed out and attacked Mrs Pederson, repeatedly stabbing her in the face, neck and hands.
“I recall the knife going into my right cheek,” Mrs Pederson said.
“I heard and felt the knife on my jaw bone. I felt excruciating pain, but adrenaline made me fight back.
“I tried so hard to hold him off and push him away but he kept stabbing me.
“I remember seeing so much blood as he kept ripping the knife through my hands.
“All I could hear was him threatening to stab me in the heart. I used all my strength to hold his hands away because I honestly believed he would kill me.”
Then, Sampson, unnerved by Mrs Pederson’s calls for help, stopped the attack, went home and called 000 to confess what he had done.
“I pride myself on physically beating the offender,” Mrs Pederson said, again locking eyes with Sampson as he sat in the court dock.
“He’s taller than me, heavier than me and I beat him.”