Terry Hickson Cold Case Bookie Murder
Terry Hickson Cold Case Bookie Murder

Widow of slain bookie ‘feared his first wife was a killer’

THE widow of a Sydney greyhound bookmaker killed 30 years ago told police his first wife "was so beaten up by hatred and bitterness" she'd one day end up killing him, a court heard.

The second wife of Dapto dogs bookie Charles Skarratt was initially a suspect herself, but Terry John Gordon Hickson is now on trial in the NSW Supreme Court for stabbing the 72-year-old to death during a botched robbery.

The Crown alleges Hickson confessed to his then girlfriend and his own blood was found at the crime scene.

But Monika Karpel told a 1993 inquest into her late husband's death that Mr Skarratt warned her if anything should happen to him she must immediately pack her bags and leave the country, "because I would be the last one to hate."

"I took it as a reference to the former Mrs Skarratt," Ms Karpel said in an inquest transcript read in court.

Terry Hickson is led from a prison truck to court in Sydney. Picture: John Grainger
Terry Hickson is led from a prison truck to court in Sydney. Picture: John Grainger

The court heard Ms Karpel discovered her partner's bound and beaten body at their lower north shore home in 1989, and that Hickson blames the widow for orchestrating Mr Skarratt's murder to cash in on his multimillion-dollar estate.

The 78-year-old now lives in her native Germany, but in a police interview she denied telling a friend "either I will inherit $1 million or go to jail" before the inquest kicked off.

Defence barrister Phil Young SC said Mr Skarratt's will had been changed to significantly favour his second wife, who was 24 years his junior and married him 18 months before he died after they met on a cruise in the Mediterranean.

Charles Skarratt and Monika Karpel.
Charles Skarratt and Monika Karpel.

"I did not kill my husband and I don't know anything about it or who did it," Ms Karpel told police.

She said her husband once assured her if anyone ever held him up he would hand over his trackside winnings without a fight.

At the inquest Ms Karpel doubted Mr Skarratt died in a random robbery gone wrong, adding: "he had inside information in the racing business and found out someone was crooked."

"It was premeditated murder in my mind," she said.

Hickson's lawyer has told the court other people may have wanted the wealthy bookie dead, noting several punters owed him large sums of money.

Mr Skarratt drove home from work at the Dapto racetrack on December 21, 1989 and had pulled into his garage late at night when he was viciously attacked, Crown prosecutor Craig Everson said.

Police take away evidence after arresting Hickson. Picture: Simon Bullard
Police take away evidence after arresting Hickson. Picture: Simon Bullard

The victim had black electrical tape wrapped around his face, while his legs were bound at the ankles with his trouser belt and his jacket had been pulled over his head, the court heard.

Ms Karpel told the inquest she screamed when she found her partner's body in the garage around 6am.

"I saw blood around it, and 20 dollar notes around it, and I immediately ran," Ms Karpel said.

Two of Mr Skarratt's children from his first marriage have testified that hours after he died, their stepmother ran around the Woolwich home holding the will while telling them: "I get everything."

The court heard Mr Skarratt's son Peter showed up to the house that morning with a combination to the wine cellar safe in his hands, but then burst out crying when he saw the will, exclaiming: "I don't get any cash money!"

The trial continues before Justice David Davies SC.

Terry Hickson leaves the Supreme Court of NSW in Sydney. Picture: AAP
Terry Hickson leaves the Supreme Court of NSW in Sydney. Picture: AAP

 

Police arrest Terry Hickson.
Police arrest Terry Hickson.