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State’s ‘overdue’ DV bail reform revealed

Written by on May 14, 2024

People accused of serious domestic violence offences will either be kept on remand or be slapped with electronic monitoring devices in a suite of bail reforms proposed by the NSW government.

The “long-awaited” measures, which will be introduced into state parliament on Tuesday, will reverse the presumption of bail for alleged offenders who commit serious DV offences against intimate partners.

These crimes include sexual assault, strangulation with intent to commit another offence and kidnapping against intimate partners.

The strengthened bail test will also apply to coercive control offences, which will become a criminal offence from July 1.

If bail is granted, accused offenders will need to wear electronic monitoring like ankle bracelets.

The government will also move to put in an additional stopgap, which state accused offenders who challenge their bail decisions in the Supreme Court will remain on remand until the decision is handed down.

Authorities like magistrates and registrars, will also be required to consider additional measures when granting bail, like safety concerns of victims and their family members, and other red flags which may indicate the risk of domestic abuse.

For example, whether the offender has exhibited physically, sexually, violent or verbally abusive behaviour.

Other risk factors include stalking, intimidation and behaviour that causes death or injury to an animal or pet.

Addition legislation will also be introduced to make it easier to prosecute offenders who use tracking and surveillance devices on victims, plus changes to weekend bail courts to prevent registrars – who do not have law degrees – to grant bail.

While the scheme will undergo further consultation before its roll out, it means only magistrates will be able to oversee bail hearings.

The Minns government quickly flagged incoming measures after the alleged murder of 28-year-old childcare worker Molly Ticehurst in the regional NSW town of Forbes about three weeks ago.

Her ex-partner Daniel Billings, 29, has been charged with her 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.

According to the current sitting schedule, the legislation will need to be passed within the next three days, with NSW parliament not reconvening again until June 4.

NSW Premier Chris Minns said the “overdue” laws were “targeted” and would help “keep women and children safer”.

NSW Attorney-General Michael Daley said the proposed reforms sent a clear message: “That the safety of victims is the paramount consideration of the justice system.”

“We will continue to consult legal and sector stakeholders to strengthen the law, to better support the safety of women and children,” he added.