62-year-old John Wallace Edwards has pleaded not guilty to the murder of his estranged wife Sharon Edwards.
62-year-old John Wallace Edwards has pleaded not guilty to the murder of his estranged wife Sharon Edwards. Nathan Edwards / Daily Telegraph

JURY OUT: Deliberations begin into alleged teacher murder

THE jury has begun deliberations into the alleged murder of Grafton school teacher Sharon Edwards.

As the Coffs Harbour Supreme Court trial of John Wallace Edwards, who stands accused of murdering his estranged wife, draws to a close, Justice Robert Hulme has given his final directions to the jury.

Justice Hulme told the jury if they found the Crown had not proved the element of intent of murder or serious harm but had proved Mr Edwards' deliberate actions caused the death of Mrs Edwards, he could be found guilty of manslaughter and not guilty of murder.

He reminded the jury of the accused's son Joshua Edwards's evidence that Mr Edwards told him he and Mrs Edwards had "wrestled", threw her to the ground and she hit her head the night she was last seen alive.

Justice Hulme told the jury the Crown case was that version of events "understated" what happened. The defence case was Joshua's evidence was "so unreliable" the jury could not accept it.

In summarising the cases put forward by the prosecution and defence, Justice Hulme said it was a matter for the jury to decide the reliability of evidence including "second-hand" conversations divulged by witnesses.

He said it was not in dispute Mrs Edwards had not been seen alive by any known person after the night of March 14, 2015 or that she was a "well-regarded person" in her professional and personal life who was looking forward to a future with Billy Mills, with whom she was in a relationship.

"Whether the accused knew that and, if so, to what extent is a matter for you," Justice Hulme said.

He said the Crown's circumstantial case was not necessarily weak because of the lack of direct evidence.

"In order to satisfy you ­beyond reasonable doubt the Crown must persuade you Sharon Edwards is dead and the deliberate act or acts of the accused intended to kill her or at least cause her really serious bodily harm," he said.

Deliberations will resume on Wednesday. 


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