Police inspect the area.

Police inspect the Sunshine shopping area where a mother of four was stabbed to death. Photo: Jason South

A mother of four has been stabbed to death by her abusive partner soon after the pair left a court dispute in Melbourne's west, police say.

Homicide detectives have confirmed there was a restraining order out against the killer, and that he had a history of domestic abuse against the woman.

The Melton West woman, 33, had been at Sunshine Magistrates Court on Wednesday because of a dispute with her de-facto husband of 18 years. She then went to a nearby women's refuge and to her solicitor's office on Hampshire Road, Sunshine.

Police inspect the area.

The woman was stabbed soon after leaving a court dispute with her de-facto husband. Photo: Jason South

Three minutes after walking out the door, her de-facto husband, 38, of Sunshine North, stabbed her multiple times in the chest with a fishing knife, according to police.

''It's an atrocious crime,'' Detective Senior Sergeant Stuart Bailey said. ''The offender is known to police, has a history of domestic violence and also his own history of violence.''

The killing happened in front of the man's son, aged in his 20s.

View Larger Map

Police cannot, for legal reasons, confirm the nature of the court dispute believed to have led to the brutal killing. ''We were hoping the dispute would be resolved by the court itself, but this de facto has taken it into his own hands to try and resolve it in his own way, and it escalated and she has been fatally stabbed.''

The woman died in the middle of a suburban shopping strip at the corner of Devonshire and Hampshire roads, after several onlookers tried frantically to revive her.

She was pronounced dead shortly before 12.30pm.

Senior Sergeant Bailey said the killer fled in a red Holden sedan, driving west down Devonshire Road, before crashing into another car and fleeing on foot.

Police found the getaway car and have launched a manhunt in the area involving the police air wing.

The knife was found near the dumped car on Foundry Road. The man remained on the run on Wednesday night. He is described as 175 centimetres tall and slim with short-cropped hair and a goatee. He was wearing a black hoodie, black jeans and blue runners.

Witnesses to Wednesday's killing told of their horror at seeing the woman stabbed to death in broad daylight.

Real estate agent Anjana ran out from her office when she heard screaming.

''There was a lady bleeding ... a lot of blood,'' she said.

Victoria Police figures obtained by Fairfax Media reveal more than 820 offenders, overwhelmingly men, breached intervention orders at least three times in the past financial year. Of these, 200 individuals violated orders more than five times and 15 committed more than 10 separate breaches in one year.

The courts have had to process a record number of breaches, which topped more than 12,000 last year.

Victoria Police has repeatedly blamed rising crime rates on family violence offences, with special teams dedicated to the most problematic cases in recent years.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

For information and help regarding family violence visit Domestic Violence Victoria or in an emergency call police or the women's domestic violence crisis services on 1800 015 188.

With Jane Lee