“IT’S the worst decision of my life.”
Sharon Strudwick said a split-second decision to tell her son to hide a container of bullets effectively ruined her life.
The 49-year-old detailed her side of events following the shooting murder of Tamworth police officer Senior Constable David Rixon on March 2, 2012, after taking the stand in a sentencing hearing in Tamworth District Court yesterday.
She has pleaded guilty to acting, namely disposing of 0.38-calibre ammunition, with intent to pervert the course of justice – a charge which carries a maximum of 14 years in prison.
“I’ve made some silly decisions, but that is the worst,” she told the court yesterday.
Strudwick was heard, during a phone intercept with co-offender Monica Sampson, telling her son, James Strudwick, to stash a container down the toilet S-bend.
Inside that container was a number of bullets which she had found in the garage of the Olive Ln home she lived in a few days prior.
“I never undid it, because I was frightened of what it might be,” she said.
Strudwick told the court Sampson had asked her why police would want to search the home again just before she dialled James’s number.
“I told her ‘I don’t know, but I found a package and I think it could be bullets, because it was heavy’,” she said.
“I was really upset; I was sort of screaming, moaning about what was happening.”
The former beauty therapist said she had not worked for three years and didn’t believe “anyone would give me a job here (in Tamworth)”.
“I’ve hurt other people by my action,” she said.
“I’ve hurt the Rixon family and put them through more pain.”
She also revealed how locals had hurled abuse at her, causing her to become reclusive.
Strudwick, who became emotional at times on the stand, detailed her drug use and admitted to injecting heroin about five or six times a day at the time of the shooting.
She also told the court how she had spent more than $190,000 of a settlement over about six months on drugs and living expenses, but she could not remember whether she had been under the influence on the morning she made that phone call.
“I don’t recall, but the fact I don’t recall makes me think that I had been,” she said.
“I sound like I’m pretty out of it.”
Strudwick said she had a feeling she and Sampson were about to go and buy drugs when police arrived to search the house again.
“It was a typical thing to do,” she said, of buying drugs in the morning.
Crown prosecutor John Stanhope argued Strudwick “knew or believed” the container had bullets in it and “was acting with intent to pervert the course of justice, in the sense of preventing police from gathering evidence”.
But in a disputed facts hearing, the court will determine whether that was a perversion of the course of justice in the murder investigation of Michael Allan Jacobs.
Barrister Sheridan Goodwin maintains Strudwick was worried she would get into trouble for possessing ammunition.
“Intention to pervert the course of justice relating to any investigation of her in relation to ammunition,” she told the court.
Strudwick told police on the night of the shooting she didn’t think there were any firearms or ammunition in the house, because she “didn’t think Mick (Michael Jacobs) would have done it”.
But under cross-examination yesterday, Strudwick admitted she didn’t remember some parts of the conversation.
“I was in shock, my partner had been shot, he was on life support, another officer was dead ... how do you think what sort of frame of mind I was in?” she said.
“I freaked out ... I just couldn’t believe it was happening.”
The hearing continues today.