Warners Bay post office inquest day three: Stephen Hodge shot four times after lunging at police with large knife

FATAL CONFRONTATION: Mobile phone footage shows the moments before a knife-wielding Stephen Hodge was shot dead by two police officers in the Warners Bay post office car park on September 9, 2015.
FATAL CONFRONTATION: Mobile phone footage shows the moments before a knife-wielding Stephen Hodge was shot dead by two police officers in the Warners Bay post office car park on September 9, 2015.

THE police officer who became trapped behind a gate during a tense stand-off with knife-wielding postal worker Stephen Hodge said he repeatedly called on the advancing 51-year-old to drop the weapon until he had no choice but to shoot.

Lake Macquarie Senior Constable Jamie Taylor was giving evidence at a coronial inquest into the death of Mr Hodge, who was shot four times by police in the car park of the Warners Bay post office on September 9, 2015.

Constable Taylor and his partner, Constable Darren Hamilton, had been called to Postmans Lane after reports Mr Hodge was chasing the postmaster, Brendan Hogan, with a large knife.

For about 40 seconds the pair tried unsuccessfully to communicate with an agitated, bleeding and intoxicated Mr Hodge, repeatedly demanding, and then requesting, that he put the knife down.

“Come on mate you don't want to do this,” Senior Constable Taylor said at one point. But after Mr Hodge suddenly turned and advanced on then-Constable Taylor, the knife raised, the police officer found himself on the other side of a gate. 

He explained on Wednesday that if he tried to move to his left he would have been too close to Mr Hodge and the knife or possibly in the line of fire of his partner. 

So he backed up as Mr Hodge “advanced quickly”, closing the gap. 

SCARED: Stephen Hodge confronts his boss Brendan Hogan in the post office on September 9, 2015.

SCARED: Stephen Hodge confronts his boss Brendan Hogan in the post office on September 9, 2015.

"I called on him numerous times to put the weapon down until it got to the point where I thought if I didn't discharge my weapon I was going to be stabbed,” Senior Constable Taylor said. 

The inquest is exploring a number of issues relating to Mr Hodge’s death, including the significance of the fact that then-Constable Taylor became trapped between a gate and the fence in the post office car park as Mr Hodge advanced as well as how the management of Mr Hodge’s behaviour and performance at work as well as his mental illness contributed to his erratic behaviour on the day he died. 

At the conclusion of his evidence, Senior Constable Hamilton was asked if there was anything he would say to Mr Hodge’s mother, Janet.

“Just to express my condolences to the family,” he said. 

LONER: Stephen Hodge was described as a man with "no children, no hobbies, no pets and no friends".

LONER: Stephen Hodge was described as a man with "no children, no hobbies, no pets and no friends".

I called on him numerous times to put the weapon down until it got to the point where I thought if I didn't discharge my weapon I was going to be stabbed.

Senior Constable Jamie Taylor.