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’Long overdue’: Push for major bail change

Written by on May 13, 2024

High-risk offenders facing serious domestic-violence related charges could be denied bail even if they don’t have a criminal history, in a suite of legal reforms set to be introduced into NSW parliament this week.

The bill will be taken to NSW cabinet on Monday and will need to be debated on and voted through NSW parliament before it becomes law, however NSW Premier Chris Minns said the changes were “needed,” and “long overdue”.

“We’re particularly focusing on high-risk offenders that have been, or are facing serious charges in the court, whether they’ve got a criminal history or not, who pose an ongoing risk to their former intimate partner and we’re particularly looking at that question around bail or remand,” he told 2GB on Monday.

“We need to be in a situation where if it looks as though there’s a pattern of behaviour, or there was very serious charges, or if the police determine that person is a high risk to the community, we keep them in remand, so the victim has an opportunity for justice in the court system.”

Asked by morning host Ben Fordham whether the reforms would be “stomping over the rights of the accused,” Mr Minns said the government aimed to create a “balanced package,” which would allow police to “make a case for remand because they think it’s in the public’s interest”.

Mr Minns also appeared to reject calls from the Opposition to use electronic monitoring devices, like ankle bracelets, to monitor people accused of serious domestic violence charges.

He said current programs using electronic monitoring were too small in scale – pointing towards a trial involving just 150 people in South Australia – to combat the breadth of the issue in NSW.

He added that electronic devices likely wouldn’t help victims who were at risk of being murdered, or seriously assaulted by perpetrators.

“I’m particularly worried about the individual who says: ‘I don’t care whether I spend the rest of my life in a jail cell, I’m determined to hurt or inflict assault or damage or even go even further and kill my former partner, and I don’t care about the consequences’,” said Mr Minns.

“Electronic monitoring is not going to make a difference for those particular offenders. Remand is the only answer for them while the trial takes place.”

The urgent bail reform package comes three weeks after the death of Forbes childcare worker Molly Ticehurst, 28, who was allegedly murdered by her former partner Daniel Billings.

The 29-year-old has been charged with murder, breaching an apprehended violence order and failing to comply with bail conditions.

The case remains before the court and Mr Billings is yet to enter a plea.