John Edwards
John Edwards

INSIDE THE TRIAL: Unreported evidence from Edwards case

IN 2015, beloved primary school teacher and grandmother Sharon Edwards went missing without a trace, five years later her estranged husband has been found guilty for her murder.

Throughout the four-week trial into the teacher's killer, John Edwards, more than 40 people were called to give evidence.

Among them friends, family, neighbours and detectives critical to the investigation.

 

Sharon Edwards
Sharon Edwards Contributed

Inevitably, in The Daily Examiner's daily coverage of the Supreme Court trial elements of evidence heard in court were not able to be included in each story.

Now, we take you back to the trial to what you missed.

To read about what happened in the trial first, click here.

 

THE HITMAN THEORY

ON November 5 it was reported Edwards former colleague Paul Farrell told the court the killer had blamed his wife's death on a hit job gone wrong.

Mr Farrell told the court he asked the accused what he thought happened to his wife.

"He said he believed she was dead - he said he was sure," he said.

"He told me he believed Sharon hired someone to kill him and that it had backfired, and she had been killed instead."

This hitman theory was repeated by Edwards two sons Joshua and Eli when giving evidence.

Joshua told the court his dad suggested a hitman had hurt his mum.

"Pop would've organised a hit man for your mother to kill me, he said, and it's gone wrong, that was his first explanation," Joshua said.

Eli echoed the same story when called to testify.

"He (Edwards) mentioned a loan mum had taken out," he said.

Eli told the court the loan Edwards said to be for $40,000 was to get rid of him.

Sharon's father Brian Wall was the first witness to be called, when asked if he had any connections to hit men he said no.

Press conference at the Grafton Police Station about Sharon Edwards being missing, which has now become murder. Three sons are Josh [who spoke], Zac and Eli with their Dad John Edwards.  Photo: Leigh Jensen / Daily Examiner April 1, 2015
Press conference at the Grafton Police Station about Sharon Edwards being missing, which has now become murder. Three sons are Josh [who spoke], Zac and Eli with their Dad John Edwards. Photo: Leigh Jensen / Daily Examiner April 1, 2015 Leigh Jensen

 

At the end of the trial, Sharon's sister Elizabeth Green recalled a discussion a decade before Sharon's disappearance as their children played at the couple's Lawrence home, Sharon and Edwards were arguing about money.

Ms Green said Sharon said to John she would get a hitman to kill him. In cross-examination, Ms Green said she heard a similar comment three or four times but no more recently than a decade before Sharon's murder.

"I didn't know what to think about it," Ms Green told the court.

THE SOLICTOR

SHARON Edwards had enlisted the help of a Grafton solicitor to seek advice on property division.

Anthony Gallagher of A J Gallagher Solicitors and Conveyancers told the court he discussed the potential outcome of property division and what Sharon could walk away with when she came to him in 2014.

"Her attitude was she had no personal animosity to John at all, but she was absolutely fed up with living in a house that was under renovation," Mr Gallagher said.

"Which I gathered had been going on for years. That was her problem."

He said the conversation boiled down to a discussion of Sharon's future if she split from her husband.

He received a call from Sharon in the following weeks informing him Edwards had suggested the couple buy a house in town.

In 2017, John Edwards engaged the same solicitor when he was charged with the murder of his wife.

 

THE CAR KEY

IN the days after Sharon was reported missing by Edwards, Police thoroughly searched both her Grafton home and Edward's Lawrence address.

However, months after this the court heard Edwards found Sharon's car key at his Lawrence house.

There were two keys to Sharon's car, one was seized by police from Sharon's bedroom during their search, the other the court heard Edwards found and gave to his solicitor, Mr Gallagher.

 

FORMER HOME: The Riverdale Crt address Sharon Edwards used to call home. Her car was found parked in the garage following her disappearance.
FORMER HOME: The Riverdale Crt address Sharon Edwards used to call home. Her car was found parked in the garage following her disappearance. Clair Morton

Police were contacted when Mr Gallagher got hold of the key and detectives retrieved it in October 2016.

It was the prosecution case the key was an important piece of incriminating evidence against Edwards.

The defence put it to the jury that Edwards would have recognised the key as just that and could have disposed of it rather than seeing it get in the hands of Police.

"There's a very obvious solution to getting rid of it in Lawrence, it's called the Clarence River," Defence barrister Peter O'Connor told the jury in his closing statement.

 

THE PHONE ON THE LAWN

IN 2016, police told Joshua Edwards and his brothers about the phone location data heard in court that placed Sharon's phone and Edward's phone in Grafton until the early hours of Sunday morning before pinging in the Woodford Island area around 4am.

Joshua, Zac and Eli confronted their father about the new revelations. When giving evidence, Joshua said his father told them he found his phone on the lawn outside his Lawrence home the Sunday morning after Sharon disappeared.

Joshua said it was the first time his father had mentioned this.

The defence made the case this was an inane fact that wouldn't arise as important until the phone data came into play.

"An obvious explanation at the time is he dropped it on the way in. That's the sort of thing that can readily happen if carried in a pocket," Mr O'Connor said.

It was the prosecution case that this was another in a string of lies told in an attempt to cover up his crime.

 

THE BEHAVIOUR OF THE KILLER

ONE of the major elements in the Crown's case against Edwards was his behaviour being inconsistent with that a husband concerned and grieving his missing wife.

The prosecutor pointed to the first interview Edwards had with police on March 17, 2015 - the day Sharon was reported missing.

In the filmed interview tendered as evidence, Edwards spoke rapidly, often veering on tangents as police questioned him.

He told police Sharon was often out with friends and not home often, he said he had "taken statistics" and discovered she ate out 3.7 nights per week.

"He was spending his time on the computer trying to see what she'd been up to and how much of his money she had spent," the prosecutor told the jury in her closing statement.

The prosecution pointed to several conversations with the victim's friends, colleagues and their sons in the days after her death in which he continually said she had a ridiculous amount of clothes and spent all his money.

On the night of March 14, 2015 Sharon had plans to spend the evening with her partner Billy Mills, she had told Edwards not to come to town and in a call said she was at a pub with people he wouldn't like.

Edwards came into Grafton anyway, in the police interview he said he drove around to every pub in Grafton and South Grafton until he saw her car parked at the Good Intent Hotel.

"I suppose all the husbands to do this," he said.


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