Bendigo showgrounds killing: A tragic life leads to tragic death

VERONICA Hudson’s life “reads like a horror story’’ Justice Betty King told Melbourne’s Supreme Court during sentencing yesterday.
Nanjing Night Net

Justice King said that on December 26, 2011, Hudson and her partner Edward Heron were staying in a tent at the Bendigo showgrounds.

“It was not a proper tent in that it was just hanging from a tree, it having been donated to you but without any pegs or sufficient poles to erect,’’ she said.

“The circumstances in which you were residing were very poor. ‘’

The court heard Hudson and Heron started drinking at 10am and that sometime after 3pm they were seen arguing.

“At around 4.20 in the afternoon you were seen to push the deceased man with one hand and when he fell over you jumped onto the deceased, straddling him across the stomach and chest area and you stabbed him with a knife,’’ Justice King said.

Heron died from a single stab wound to the chest.

Witnesses said Hudson was frantic and screaming “I’ve killed him and I want him to live”.

She then handed her phone to a witness to phone triple 0.

Justice King told the court Hudson was arrested and taken to the Bendigo police station, where she was so distraught she was found unfit to be interviewed.

She said while the crime appeared to be motivated by alcohol and anger on first view, “what must be understood in dealing with this matter is the long history both relating to your (Hudson’s) personal history and the history of the relationship between yourself and Edward Heron’’.

Hudson and Heron, who was 16 years older than his partner, were both of Aboriginal descent.

Heron was removed from his family at a young age and placed in foster care before spending most of his early years in the youth justice system and prison.He had a long history of prior convictions, including robbery, violence, the manslaughter of his first cousin and had spent five years in jail after a brutal attack on Hudson in 2006.

Hudson was one of five children to an Aboriginal father, whom she never met.

She was a ward of the state, sexually abused as a child and had a neglected education before working as a prostitute in Kings Cross at the age of 13.

Hudson fled her first violent relationship and gave up a heroin addiction when she fell pregnant to a son.

He was born while Hudson was in custody.

Hudson fled to Alice Springs soon after her release, where she became involved with a violent man for eight years, who during that time pushed her in front of a four-wheel-drive, causing her to spend 16 months in hospital learning to walk again.

Her relationship with Heron started one month after that relationship broke down and was described to the court as “appallingly violent’’.

“You described him as cutting your arms, hand, throat, pulling your teeth out with pliers, that he was very jealous, very suspicious, always believing that you were having sex with any male that you met, including with your son, your son’s friends or any male around the area,’’ Justice King said. “The more he drank the worse the jealousy was.’’

Justice King told the court that on March 1, 2006 a domestic violence order was taken out against Heron, but six days later he waited near Hudson’s unit and assaulted her.

“To describe it as assault is to downplay the significance and the horror of the injuries and suffering that he inflicted upon you,’’ Justice King said.

The court heard a summary of relevant transcripts from the assault, which said Heron struck Hudson several times to her face whereupon she fell over.

He then kicked her in the face and back, bent down over her and bit her above her left breast before placing both feet together and jumping up and down on her face, back and head.

Hudson remained on the ground until 7am the following day, pleading with Heron to get her help.

She was too scared to get up.

The bite wound became infected, and Hudson was flown to Darwin for treatment to a broken jaw.

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Justice King told the court that when Heron went to prison, Hudson was “passed back” to the previous partner who had assaulted her.

“Until the deceased was released from prison, at which stage he tracked you down, found where you were living and you returned to him instantly out of a combination of love, fear, lack of choices and hopelessness,’’ Justice King said.

“From the material it appears that all the family members of both families, yours and Edward’s, expected that you would be the one who died as a result of this relationship.

“There was much discussion in the statements about the deceased man’s extreme jealously and constant infliction of violence upon you.

“You came to accept that you deserved to be punished by Edward Heron as well as the other men in your life.

“You accepted punishment was appropriate because you made them angry, or upset them.

“In relation to Mr Heron, you believed to a large degree he protected you and this was just one of the prices you paid for that protection.”

Justice King read several statements to the court from Hudson’s son, Harley, who told of being too afraid to protect his mother from Heron.

“I was aware of him biting her, cutting her throat, and giving her constant black eyes and injuries,” the statement read.

“She used to hide it from me all the time because she knew I hated it and I disapproved. “I think she was also worried that if she got help from anyone, he would pay her back worse next time.

“Even though Woody was a little bloke, he was very unpredictable and I was definitely afraid of him.’’

Harley also wrote of looking forward to spending time with his mother free from alcohol and family violence.

“Strangely, I think being in gaol has actually been quite a positive experience for her,” the statement read.

“She has been cooking and gardening and making art, not drinking or using drugs and she has had a chance to focus on getting her life back together.”

A witness at the showgrounds had also spoken of seeing Heron assault Hudson on a daily basis.

“I have seen the man hit the woman just about every day,’’ she said.

“This would involve punches and slaps but I also saw him poke her in the face with his fingers, in the face a number of times.

“She would just sit screaming at him but not hitting back at him.”

In sentencing Hudson to six years’ jail, with a non-parole period of three years, Justice King said it would appear from all the material that the prisoner was “subject to constant violence by this man and everyone appeared powerless to prevent it’’, including Hudson herself.

‘TRAGEDY’: Veronica Hudson is led from court. Picture: Jodie Donnellan

“Your life clearly has been one where you have lacked the power to do much to make it better or worth living,’’ she said.

“Your life is a tragedy in the true sense, as to a degree was Woody’s.’’

Justice King said she believed Hudson had a strong chance of rehabilitation.

“You are incredibly remorseful for what you have done,’’ she said.

“Despite the problems in your relationship it was clear that you loved Woody a great deal.

“The two of you shared a most tragic life resulting in a most tragic death.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.