Shaun Robert Sturgess charged with murder of Jacqueline Sturgess

A man who bludgeoned his estranged wife to death with a 1.8kg sledgehammer is standing trial for her murder.

Shaun Robert Sturgess was charged with the murder of Jacqueline Sturgess, 45, after police found her bloodied body inside their family Narangba home, north of Brisbane, in April 2020.

Police had been called to the house to conduct a welfare check when they discovered the 45-year-old woman lying face down in a pool of her own blood.

Mr Sturgess pleaded guilty to manslaughter before the Brisbane Supreme Court on Monday.

But Crown Prosecutor Chris Cook rejected the guilty plea and the murder trial began before a jury.

Mr Cook said Mr Sturgess had allegedly murdered his estranged wife by striking her on the back of the skull with the sledgehammer and left her lifeless body for nearly 24 hours as he went to get drunk.

The court heard the couple had separated months earlier and Ms Sturgess had visited a solicitor hours before she died to discuss property settlement options.

Mr Cook said Ms Sturgess had visited the Narangba home to collect a desk when her estranged husband flew into “a rage it seems, due to the breakdown of his relationship”.

The court was told Mr Sturgess later told police he had “lost his sh-t” and struck Ms Sturgess on the base of her skull with the sledgehammer at least once.

Mr Cook said Mr Sturgess allegedly told police Ms Sturgess “probably didn’t deserve” to die “but she’s a c– t, she’s probably driven me to it”.

Mr Cook told the court Mr Sturgess then left the house, leaving his phone and dog behind, discarded the hammer and walked about 1km to a bottle shop where he bought two four packs of Jack Daniels.

He then took a taxi to a friends place where he stayed the night and kept drinking.

Mr Cook said the day after Ms Sturgess was killed, Mr Sturgess had told the friend he was staying with that he’d “failed, she’s gone, I’ve f– king killed her”.

The court was told Mr Sturgess also told police during his interview he’d “bludgeoned her” and that she “drove” him into killing her.

Mr Cook said Mr Sturgess had “blamed” his estranged wife for her own death.

“You’ll hear about some motive – this isn’t a case of some great degree of meditation or planning but instead a man who was angry, a man who was angry about discussions about child support,” Mr Cook said.

“He thought he was being fleeced, a man who when then got his sledgehammer and leaped at his wife and killed her.”

Mr Cook said the jury would need to decide whether Mr Sturgess intended to kill or cause grievous bodily harm to his estranged wife when he struck her with the sledgehammer.

He said the discussion around child support and finances, while “not a great motive” for murder, might “lend to his anger” as to why he struck her.

Defence barrister Chris Wilson said there was no dispute his client killed Ms Sturgess but the jury would need to decide whether there was intent.

He asked the jury to “keep an open mind” when listening to the evidence during the five-day trial.

The trial continues.

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