A “highly controlling” elderly woman attacked her son with an axe and suffocated him, leaving behind a note explaining her actions.
Erica Heddergott pleaded guilty to one charge of murder and faced the Supreme Court of Victoria on Tuesday for a pre-sentence hearing.
The 82-year-old also tried to take her own life after she bludgeoned her son William Heddergott with an axe and put a plastic bag around his head in November last year.
He was a gentle and caring man who had social anxiety and a major depressive disorder. He lived in residential care before the coronavirus pandemic but returned to stay at his parents’ Greensborough house.
Camera IconErica Heddergott attacked her son with an axe and suffocated him. NCA NewsWire / David Crosling Credit: News Corp Australia
She was a “highly controlling” woman and limited her son’s interactions, crown prosecutor Patrick Bourke told the court.
“Ms Heddergott was highly controlling over William, limiting his behaviours outside of the family home, reducing his independence and ensuring William’s dependence on her from a young age,” Mr Bourke said.
A Meals on Wheels worker found a key in the front door and discovered the elderly woman lying on the floor with vomit on her. A small bottle of Jim Beam was found near her.
The worker called an ambulance but the elderly woman said: “I don’t want them.”
The body of 50-year-old William was found on the couch with the bag wrapped tightly around his head, the court was told.
“It would have been a frightening experience for William,” Mr Bourke said.
An axe wrapped in a bloodied beanie was found at the scene along with a note titled “farewell” in the kitchen.
Camera Icon“Time has run out and I apologise for all the loose ends and work I left,” Erica Heddergott wrote in her note. Jason Edwards Credit: News Corp Australia
“Time has run out and I apologise for all the loose ends and work I left,” it read.
It was signed: “With Christian love, Erica.”
“Will loved people and he really wanted to connect. He hopes to be better next time,” she wrote after signing the note.
An autopsy found her son had a blood alcohol reading of 0.18 in his system.
Defence barrister Rishi Nathwani said Ms Heddergott was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour, “erroneously” believed she would die and no one else would care for her son.
“She made the decision to kill him and also seek to kill herself but also failed in doing so,” he said.
He said it was not an excuse but appeared to be her rationale behind the only criminal offence she ever committed, Mr Nathwani said.
The lawyer said it was accepted his client would likely die in prison.
Justice Lex Lasry will sentence on Tuesday afternoon.
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