A mother battling PTSD caused by threats, intimidation and assaults from her son stabbed him repeatedly in the back with a butcher's knife at their multimillion-dollar Australian home last year.

Samantha Palmer almost killed her son Hugo Ball after the vicious attack in Bellevue Hill, New South Wales, that a judge said was the result of mental illness and a "family in crisis".

Palmer, 56, managed to avoid a prison sentence on Thursday after being given a 17-month intensive correction order for pleading guilty to a charge of reckless wounding.

The two-year AVO will be put in place to prevent Palmer from approaching her son, unless they decide to meet again for family counselling.

Magistrate Erin Kennedy said that Palmer was guilty of a "hideous event" but it was clear that the actions were the result of her mental illness.

“A family who were coping with the impacts of ice addiction and were trying to manage a very difficult situation with someone they love,” she told Downing Centre Local Court.

“What the facts discloses is a loss of control, a loss of control of a parent.”

The troubled mother turned to alcohol to help manage her demons and was drunk at the time of the attack, the court heard.

Ms Kennedy said the incident was a stark reminder that all parents should seek help when they need it.

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“So much worse could have happened in this scenario," she said.

It is not currently clear what sparked the brutal attack but Palmer's defence Grant Brady SC told the court that it comes after years of trauma inflicted by her son.

“It’s been punctured by far more significant matters – including threats, including intimidation, including psychotic episodes and unfortunately including assault,” he said.

The defence said that Palmer was "walking on eggshells" around her son in the lead up to the attack after he had recently moved home.

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Mr Brady told the court it was "common sense" that Palmer's psychological condition is what caused her response to a threat from Mr Ball and led to the gruesome attack.

He added that she was in a "dissociated state" when she stabbed her son and could not remember all of the details.

But James Meegan, police prosecutor, told the court that Palmer had given differing versions of the night's events to psychologists.

In one story, Mr Ball lunged at his mother and told her that he had been "involved in a murder," Mr Meegan said.

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Palmer told another psychologist that she had no real memory of the incident.

Mr Meegan claims that the number of stab wounds to her son were "akin to anger rather than a genuine belief it was necessary for her to defend herself”.

He added that even if Palmer believed she was in danger, the response was still “grossly disproportionate”.

Ms Kennedy added 25 hours of community service on Palmer’s sentence and ordered she continue her mental health treatment.

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