The circumstances behind the death of Nelda Mavis Edwards may forever remain a mystery now that a murder charge against her doctor son has been dropped.
The circumstances behind the death of Nelda Mavis Edwards may forever remain a mystery now that a murder charge against her doctor son has been dropped.

Elderly woman’s death a mystery after murder charge dropped

THERE can be no doubt that Nelda Mavis Edwards was heartbroken the night she died in the bedroom of her Sandy Bay home.

The the 88-year-old had lost the love of her life - 90-year-old David Edwards - just two days prior, and two weeks before that, their son Glendon had passed away too.

But it may now remain a mystery whether Mrs Edwards' March 2016 death was intentional, or whether she really did die of "natural causes" and from a "broken heart".

Tasmania's Director of Public Prosecutions Daryl Coates has announced that a charge of murder against Mrs Edwards' son, former Hobart doctor Stephen John Edwards, who now practices in the NSW town of Woy Woy, would be discontinued as he was "gravely ill".

No details have been provided about Dr Edwards' illness, although Mr Coates said it would be "oppressive" given his prognosis to continue with the Crown case.

Doctor Stephen Edwards (second from left with white shirt and brown jacket) leaving the Supreme Court in Hobart after being given bail. Doctor Edwards is accused of killing his mother Nelda Mavis Edwards 88 at Sandy Bay. Picture: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES
Doctor Stephen Edwards (second from left with white shirt and brown jacket) leaving the Supreme Court in Hobart after being given bail. Doctor Edwards is accused of killing his mother Nelda Mavis Edwards 88 at Sandy Bay. Picture: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES

On December 4 last year, a pre-trial hearing was held at the Supreme Court of Tasmania, but details of the case that emerged that day were suppressed from publication.

But with the trial abandoned, the Mercury can now reveal that police had alleged Dr Edwards, 65, gave a "cocktail" of drugs to his mother "to effect terminal sedation in circumstances of existential distress".

It was claimed Dr Edwards and his brother Robert, 70, were in their mother's room when she passed away about 8.30pm that night. When officers arrived about 9.40pm, the pair allegedly said she'd died a "natural death" and it appeared she'd died of renal failure.

But police claimed they found a syringe and three medications that would have brought about Mrs Edwards' death.

Doctor Stephen Edwards (second from left with white shirt and brown jacket) leaving the Supreme Court in Hobart after being given bail. Doctor Edwards is accused of killing his mother Nelda Mavis Edwards 88 at Sandy Bay. Picture: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES
Doctor Stephen Edwards (second from left with white shirt and brown jacket) leaving the Supreme Court in Hobart after being given bail. Doctor Edwards is accused of killing his mother Nelda Mavis Edwards 88 at Sandy Bay. Picture: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES

While Dr Edwards alone was charged with murder, he was jointly charged with his brother with conspiring to pervert the course of justice by lying to police and prosecutors to avoid prosecution.

Robert Edwards allegedly later told police that he believed his mother had been distressed and "died of a broken heart".

But police alleged he was also recorded on a phone call to his wife, during which he told her: "I didn't tell police what I saw Stephen do".

The conspiracy charge against both men will also be discontinued. Prosecutors said Dr Edwards' motive to end his mother's life was based on his knowledge of his mother and father's wishes, the "distress" of his mother and the requests she made to him.

The brothers had pleaded not guilty and intended to fight the charges.

*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.

Originally published as Elderly woman's death remains a mystery after charges dropped


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