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

THE two police officers who shot dead knife-wielding postal worker Stephen Hodge were not carrying tasers when they confronted the troubled 51-year-old outside the Warners Bay post office because they had been working undercover, Newcastle Coroner's Court has heard. 

The detail, which may provide some explanation or insight into the tactical response taken by the two Lake Macquarie constables, came on Tuesday as the man tasked with managing Mr Hodge told the inquest his behaviour at work could be so "unpredictable" that he had feared a day like September 9, 2015, would come.  

"I always had feelings that maybe one day something might go awry," Warners Bay postmaster Brendan Hogan said in reply to questions about whether he was scared of Mr Hodge or feared one day Mr Hodge would harm him.

Mr Hodge had been sent home on the day of the shooting after he disappeared from work and then become aggressive with Mr Hogan. But he re-emerged at the rear of the post office a short time later armed with a large kitchen knife. 

Mr Hogan detailed on Tuesday the terrifying moments when Mr Hodge advanced on him from the counter area of the post office with the large knife raised at head height.

“I kept talking to Steve asking him to put the knife down,” Mr Hogan said.

“He didn’t say anything. From the time I first saw him to the time he was chasing me he never said a single word.”

The inquest was also shown a 20-minute compilation video of CCTV and mobile phone footage stitched together to show the final hours and minutes in the postal worker's life. 

The video concludes before the officers fire the fatal shots and includes audio from one witness asking why the police don’t deploy tasers to subdue Mr Hodge.

It’s often the first question asked by the public after a police shooting, but one of the officers involved, constable Darren Hamilton explained that he and Jamie Taylor were attached to the special operations group and wearing plainclothes on the day of the shooting.

“There is no plainclothes tasers,” now senior constable Hamilton said.

“Usually with firearms you keep them concealed under your shirt. “But there is nowhere to hide the taser under your shirt.”

The week-long coronial inquest will explore a number of issues relating to Mr Hodge’s death, including the significance of the fact that one officer became trapped behind a gate before Mr Hodge was shot and whether a change in managing Mr Hodge’s behaviour and performance by Australia Post contributed to his erratic behaviour on the day he died.