Man admitted bookie murder, NSW jury told

Margaret Scheikowski
Tania Morsman says she washed Terry Hickson's bloodied overalls after he returned from a robbery

A racegoer admitted stabbing a wealthy bookmaker during a Sydney robbery, saying he put the knife in him, "twisted it and he was likely dead", his ex-girlfriend has told a jury.

Terry John Gordon Hickson, aged 30 at the time and now 60, has pleaded not guilty in the NSW Supreme Court to murdering Charles Skarratt, 72.

The successful bookie was attacked and robbed of about $25,000 in the garage of his Woolwich home in December 1989 after returning from the Dapto greyhound races.

Giving evidence on Tuesday, Hickson's then-girlfriend, Tania Morsman, said she lived in North Wollongong at the time and he would regularly visit her.

He told her he would go to the Dapto races and his father had been a dog racer or trainer.

Hickson also said he was looking at a bookmaker and was going to rob him "because he needed money to pay for his barrister", she said.

"He would stalk the bookmaker on a Thursday evening and that happened at least a month or two before the robbery and murder.

"He would go to the races and follow him home."

Ms Morsman said Hickson left her home after dinner on the night of December 21 in 1989 with a bag containing gear he would use in the robbery.

"There was a balaclava, there was a pair of overalls and he had a knife in the bag as well," she said.

He returned after midnight wearing the overalls which he gave her to wash, Ms Morsman said.

"There was a lot of blood coming out of the overalls when I was washing them," she said.

"He said there was a struggle because the man was rather a big man and he struggled with him and put up a fight."

Hickson also said another man was present and took part in the robbery, she said.

She testified to previously having seen the knife - which she described as looking like a dagger about 20 to 25-centimetres long - but to not seeing it again after December 21.

On a subsequent visit to Kiama Leagues Club, she saw Hickson pass on some money to his barrister.

She and Hickson went on to have two children, but split up around 1992.

Ms Morsman said she told various partners about Hickson's confession, but once when she rang up Crime Stoppers she "got afraid" and hung up.

"On another occasion, I wrote a letter in terms of what happened and I burnt it," she said.

Under cross-examination, she agreed the confession she gave evidence about involved a serious homicide but her first police statement was only made in 2017.

"My children were grown up and I did not have the fear today like I had back then," she said.

"I no longer have a fear of Terry Hickson."

She agreed their relationship had been "extremely tempestuous" and that Hickson at one stage agreed to a five-year Apprehended Violence Order being taken out against him.

She said it was possible he had invited the magistrate to impose the maximum term applicable, instead of the usual two years, saying "it might keep her away from me".

The trial continues before Justice David Davies.