‘Lost my sh-t’: Woman bludgeoned by ex

Murder Scene
Police discovered the body of Jacqueline Sturgess at the home in April 2020.

A man who bludgeoned his estranged wife to death with a 1.8kg sledgehammer allegedly left her to die in a pool of her own blood while he went to get drunk, a court has been told.

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.

In video footage played before the court, Ms Sturgess was found by police still clutching the screwdriver she was using to dismantle a desk and her mobile phone was sticking out of her back pocket.

She had gone to the home to pick up the desk after organising it with Mr Sturgess earlier in the day via text message.

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

Murder Scene
Police were called to the Narangba home to conduct a welfare check in April 2020.

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

Mr Cook held onto the hefty sledgehammer used to kill Ms Sturgess as he addressed the jury on Monday.

He 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”.

Murder Scene
Police discovered the body of Jacqueline Sturgess at the home.

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.

It’s alleged Mr Sturgess threw the sledgehammer over a fence into a nature reserve near the house, where police found it days after Ms Sturgess’ death.

He then took a taxi to a friend’s 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.”

Murder Scene
Police allege Jacqueline Sturgess was murdered.

Family friend Donna Read told the court she had called police the day after Ms Sturgess went to the Narangba house, as she hadn’t heard from her.

The court was shown telephone communication between the two women, with Ms Sturgess telling Ms Read she was heading to the house where her estranged husband lived.

“I rang her probably four, five times that day,” Ms Read said.

“I called police because I knew something had happened.”

Ms Read said she’d had concerns about Mr Sturgess’ mental health following the separation from his wife but had also retracted several statements she gave to police about the relationship between the pair.

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 on Tuesday.