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Molly Ticehurst: Chris Minns orders review of NSW’s bail laws after the alleged murder of childcare worker

Key Points
  • Minns has flagged the possibility of requiring all weekend bail applications to be put before a magistrate.
  • The Crown lawyer will be tasked to report on the bail decision by 31 May.
  • Forbes mayor Phyllis Miller said women living in rural and regional NSW were not as safe as their urban counterparts.
A childcare worker’s alleged murder could spark a bail overhaul in country NSW as the premier admits the status quo is not working for domestic violence victims.
Taking bail decisions out of the hands of registrars and trialling specialist domestic violence courts, like those used on Queensland’s Gold Coast, are among the ideas on the table in two reviews launched on Wednesday.

The announcements follow the death of mother Molly Ticehurst, 28, whose body was found inside her home at Forbes, in central-western NSW, on Monday.

‘Status quo is not going to work’

Ticehurst’s former partner has been charged with her murder as well as breaching an apprehended violence order and failing to comply with bail conditions.
Daniel Billings, 29, had been granted bail two weeks earlier for charges that included stalking and intimidation of Ticehurst.
He faced three counts of sexual intercourse without consent and four charges of stalking and intimidating Ticehurst in recent months.

β€œThe system obviously failed Molly and the status quo is not going to work,” NSW Premier Chris Minns told reporters.

Minns said his government wanted to work with lower courts on the possibility of requiring all weekend bail applications to be put before a magistrate, even if that required an audiovisual link to a Sydney courthouse.
“These are weighty and important decisions for magistrates to be made in obviously short periods of time,” he said.
The Crown lawyer will be tasked to report on the bail decision by 31 May.
A standing bail advisory panel that includes police, prosecutors and legal groups will also be asked to delve into potential gaps in the Bail Act.

Women’s Safety Commissioner Hannah Tonkin will be included in that work with a view to potentially having her permanently on the panel.

Rural women not as safe, mayor says

Forbes mayor Phyllis Miller said women living in rural and regional NSW were not as safe as their urban counterparts.
“We cannot hide like you can in the metropolitan areas … everyone knows everyone and they know where everyone is,” she told ABC TV.

“How can you allow someone to bail without doing some assessment of the harm they could cause?”

Federal Women’s Minister Katy Gallagher said the problem was deeper than finding more resources and funding for support services, and men needed to play a greater role in working to keep women safe.
“This is a crisis in this country and women don’t feel safe,” she told ABC radio.
During a brief mention of the murder case in Orange Local Court on Tuesday, Billings did not apply for and was refused bail.
He is due to appear in Parkes Local Court on 20 June.
With the death of a Victorian woman on Wednesday, 26 women have died from gender-based violence in Australia this year.
All but two have been at the hands of men, according to violence prevention organization Our Watch.
Readers seeking crisis support can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
If you or someone you know wants to talk about sexual assault or harassment, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au

In an emergency, call 000.