A man who fatally struck an Indigenous woman with his car before enlisting his mother to help him dispose of the body has been sentenced to six years behind bars.

WARNING: This story contains the name and image of an Aboriginal person who has passed, as well as themes some readers may find distressing.

Joshua Mason, 25, was handed his sentence, suspended after three years, in the NT Supreme Court on Wednesday, after previously pleading guilty to hit-and-run, perverting the course of justice and interfering with human remains.

His mother, Deborah Mason, 51, will spend six months in jail after pleading guilty to interfering with human remains and perverting the course of justice.

“The offending is plainly serious and disturbing,” Justice Jenny Blokland said during Wednesday’s sentencing.

“If the defendants thought they were moving the body of someone who no one would notice was missing, they badly miscalculated.”

Kumanjayi Dixon was walking down the Stuart Highway outside Darwin to visit family when she was struck and killed by Mason’s car on May 30, 2022.

In a panic, he called his mother and enlisted her help to remove Ms Dixon’s lifeless body from the road.

Deborah Mason helped collect, move, and conceal the woman’s body in bushland 15km south of the collision site.

But the pair left the dead Indigenous woman’s dismembered leg on the Stuart Highway, triggering a massive police investigation as well as their eventual arrest.

Her body was later found partially buried in scrub in Bees Creek on June 1 after the pair were arrested and Deborah Mason took detectives to the grave.

A traveller driving on the four-lane highway linking Darwin to Alice Springs and Adelaide had spotted the partial leg. 

The court heard that when Mason eventually admitted the hit-and-run to police, he told them: “It’s my life, it’s my mum’s life, and because a drunk idiot wants to walk across a dark road at night time, my life is over.”

The maximum penalty for misconduct with a corpse in the NT is two years’ imprisonment. Destroying evidence and attempting to pervert the course of justice carry potential three and 15-year terms respectively.

During Wednesday’s sentencing, members of Ms Dixon’s family filled the courtroom, with some travelling from Alice Springs to watch the pair be sentenced.

Justice Blokland said the pair had misjudged how Ms Dixon’s family would react.

“Did they think they could move the body and no one would notice? If so that was a distorted view of the deceased and her circumstances,” Justice Blokland said.

“It is hard to comprehend how two ordinary people can be so insensitive and callous, but they were.”

The mother and son sat silently in court, crying at times while listening to their sentences.

Deborah Mason was led from the courtroom into custody, after being out on bail during the court proceedings, and will be eligible for release next year.

Joshua Mason has remained in custody since his arrest in June 2022 and will be eligible for release in 2025.

Outside court, Ms Dixon’s family was tearful, saying justice had not been served.

“I hope they rot in hell,” Philomena Clancy told reporters.

“If that guy wasn’t white it would have been worse for him.”

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