Man goes drinking after killing wife: court

Murder Scene
A man accused of murdering his ex-wife with a sledgehammer has pleaded not guilty on the first day of his Supreme Court trial.

A man accused of bludgeoning his estranged wife to death with a 1.8kg sledgehammer went out drinking afterwards, with a court hearing he told police: “She probably didn’t deserve that, but she’s a c--t.”

Graphic pictures of Jacqueline Sturgess lying face down in a pool of blood were shown to the jury on the first day of Shaun Robert Sturgess’ trial on Monday.

Another X-ray of her shattered skull was shown to demonstrate what Crown prosecutor Chris Cook alleged was “a crime of passion or perhaps vengeance” over a child support dispute during the couple’s separation.

Murder Scene
Shaun Robert Sturgess has pleaded not guilty to murdering his estranged wife Jacqueline at their Narangba home (pictured) in 2020. Picture: Supplied

Mr Sturgess pleaded not guilty to a single count of murder during his arraignment at the Supreme Court in Brisbane.

His plea to the alternative count of manslaughter was rejected by the Crown.

The court was told Mrs Sturgess, 45, and Mr Sturgess had separated around the end of 2019 and she had moved out of their Narangba home north of Brisbane.

Mr Cook said the jury would hear evidence that Mr Sturgess had a history of violence towards his estranged wife, including an incident where he tackled her to the ground over claims she was putting too much broccoli on his plate.

Mr Cook said Mrs Sturgess had attended the family home on April 28, 2020 to collect property, including a desk and some jewellery.

The jury was told an “enraged” Mr Sturgess used a 1.8kg sledgehammer to strike Mrs Sturgess in the back of the head from behind while she was dismantling the desk.

“This caused severe fracturing of Jacqueline Sturgess’s skull”, Mr Cook said.

“She died on the floor in front of that desk.”

After delivering the fatal blow, Mr Sturgess disposed of the weapon and walked up to a nearby bottle shop, Mr Cook said.

He ordered two four-pack cases of Jack Daniels and caught a taxi to stay at a friend’s home in Rocklea.

Mr Cook told the jury they would hear evidence from the taxi driver that Mr Sturgess was heard saying: “I’m in trouble, it’s all over, my whole life is f--ked.”

The next day, Mr Sturgess told his friend that he had “failed” and “she’s gone, I f--king killed her”, among other statements.

Around the time of her death, Mrs Sturgess had visited a solicitor to discuss property settlement options.

Mr Cook said the separated couple had agreed on a 50-50 split of assets, but Mr Sturgess had allegedly become angry over discussions about child support.

Mr Cook told the jury they would hear a police recording taken upon Mr Sturgess’s arrest.

Mr Sturgess is alleged to have told police he “clubbed” or “bludgeoned” his ex-wife with the sledgehammer but denied wanting to kill her.

Mr Cook said some of the other statements included Mr Sturgess describing his wife as a “narcissist”, blaming her for her own death by saying she “drove” him to do it.

Another included: “She probably didn’t deserve that, but she’s a c--t, she probably drove me to that, but she didn’t deserve that.”

The court was told Jacqueline Sturgess’s body was found lying face down in a pool of blood at the couple’s Narangba property on April 28, 2020. Photo: 7 News
The court was told Jacqueline Sturgess’s body was found lying face down in a pool of blood at the couple’s Narangba property on April 28, 2020. Photo: 7 News

Mr Cook told the jury that the Crown’s case was that Mr Sturgess used “severe” force with the intent to at least cause Mrs Sturgess grievous bodily harm.

He said they would hear evidence that police asked Mr Sturgess if he thought the blow would kill her, to which he allegedly replied: “Yep.”

“The evidence will demonstrate Shaun Sturgess was the only aggressor,” Mr Cook said.

“He was in a state of rage or anger when he armed himself (and) confronted Jacqueline … he leaped at her.

“He had motive … it was about being upset at his estranged wife about their finances.”

Barrister Chris Wilson, acting for Mr Sturgess, briefly told the jury to focus on whether his client had intent to kill or cause a grievous bodily injury at the time of striking his ex-wife.

He urged the jury to pay close attention to the police’s recording of Mr Sturgess.

“Intent is a state of mind, it’s what is actually intended in your mind,” Mr Wilson said.

“The defendant accepts he killed his wife … (and) he did so unlawfully.

“The issue is solely whether he had the intent that is required by law before the unlawful killing of another human being becomes murder.”

The trial, before Justice Tom Sullivan, continues.

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