THREE people charged in connection with events after the shooting death of Tamworth policeman David Rixon in March this year yesterday faced new charges over the murder but also had some previous charges withdrawn.
The three – two women and a man – appeared in Tamworth Local Court during separate hearings yesterday.
Sharon Strudwick, 47, the girlfriend of Michael Jacobs, the man accused of shooting dead the highway patrol officer during a routine traffic stop six months ago in West Tamworth, appeared in court, alongside a young man, 22, whose name has been suppressed by court order.
Police prosecutor Hamish Fitzhardinge told Magistrate Roger Prowse that the Director of Public Prosecutions was withdrawing a charge of accessory after the fact of murder against the two but was replacing it with an additional charge of acting to pervert the course of justice.
The accessory charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years, and the latest charge carries a maximum sentence of 14 years, but is still an indictable offence and has to be heard in a supreme or district court.
A second woman, Monica Sampson, 29, appeared via videolink from a correctional centre in Sydney.
Sampson had previously been charged with two counts relating to the alleged hindering of evidence by disposing of 27 unfired .38-calibre cartridges about three weeks after the fatal shooting.
The prosecution also successfully sought to withdraw a charge of accessory after the fact against Sampson and replace it with the act to pervert the course of justice charge.
The court was told the defence had been informed of the new charges only a week ago.
Adjournments were sought in relation to the three defendants.
Magistrate Prowse adjourned the matters for all three defendants for committal hearings on October 24.
The hearing saw a large contingent of family members of the slain policeman attend, including Senior Constable Rixon’s widow, Fiona Rixon, and his mother and step-father.
The court yesterday also saw a very brief appearance by the man charged with Senior Constable Rixon’s murder, Michael Allan Jacobs.
Jacobs also appeared by audio-visual link from his prison confinement in the early afternoon.
Jacobs has been refused bail on the charge of the murder of the long-time Tamworth highway patrol officer, since first being arrested in March, hours after the shooting death.
The murder charges against Jacobs were adjourned for mention on November 7.