Wife killer shows no emotion as sentence handed down
IN sentencing John Edwards for the murder of his estranged wife, Justice Robert Hulme spoke of the need to 'punish, denounce and deter' in relation to domestic violence.
The body of Sharon Edwards has never been found and a four-week trial last month found Mr Edwards guilty of her murder.
Mr Edwards showed no emotion as he was this morning sentenced to 24 years in jail with a non-parole period of 18 years.
After he was led away Sharon's eldest son Josh and her partner at the time of her murder, Billy Mills, embraced.
Justice Hulme described Sharon as a "shining light" who was much loved by her family and friends.
In previous testimony Josh said his mother was the "happiest she had ever been" as she rekindled her relationship with Billy and they planned to purchase a home and retire together to Forster.
But, as Justice Hulme outlined, John Edwards was furious at that prospect. The court also heard that Sharon had made several attempts to tell her estranged husband that their marriage was over.
"He was enraged by her choice. He felt entitled to insist she remain with him at the (Riverdale Crescent) home he had purchased with his late mother's estate."
Justice Hulme was also satisfied that there had been an element of planning surrounding the events of March 15, 2015.
Sharon had been out with Mr Mills and friends at the Good Intent Pub in Grafton on the night of her murder. When she and Mr Mills returned to the Riverdale Crescent home and opened the garage door they found Mr Edwards' car inside.
Justice Hulme spoke of this detail at the sentencing hearing, noting that Mr Edwards would normally park his car out on the street and not inside the garage.
"It does seem consistent with somebody contemplating a need to put something in the ute without the prying eyes of neighbours seeing," Justice Hulme said.
During the investigation the court heard Mr Edwards told investigators a series of "nonsensical lies" including the explanation of the injuries to his hand which a medical expert described as a boxer's fracture and fight bite (where the finger is broken due to contact with a hard object and the top of the back of the hand lacerated by the tooth of the victim as the hand follows through).
Mr Edwards said he sustained the injuries to his hand in a gardening accident in which he dropped a rock on his hand and it was crushed onto the ground where a stanley knife was lying.
Mobile phone evidence was also referenced as the sentence was handed down with Justice Hulme noting the phones of both the victim and the murderer were detected travelling in a northerly direction around 4am on the morning after she was last seen alive.
"In a relatively large area where a body would never be found with swamps and forests."
After her disappearance the court heard Mr Edwards "told many lies with many inconsistencies" and tried to create an impression of a distressed husband sending her texts and repeatedly calling; and turning up at the Coutts Crossing school where she taught on the Monday morning after her murder.
Justice Hulme also noted that with Mr Edwards was "clearly not remorseful".
*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.