FORMER bush fugitive Malcolm Naden is too mentally ill to make an informed plea as he faces a second count of murder over the death of his cousin, a Sydney court has heard.
Just months after an extensive manhunt saw Naden captured by police in March, the 38-year-old was charged with a fresh count of murder during a brief court appearance at Sydney’s Central Local Court yesterday.
According to court documents, police allege that between 9.30pm on January 4, 2005, and 7am the following day, Naden murdered his cousin, Lateesha Nolan.
Ms Nolan disappeared after dropping two of her four children off at her grandparents’ home in West Dubbo. Her body has never been found. It is the second murder Naden, a former abattoir worker, has been charged with.
He is also accused of killing 24-year-old mother of two Kristy Scholes, who was found dead just days before Naden disappeared.
But Naden – who appeared via audio-visual link from Long Bay jail yesterday – was not well enough to enter a plea on either count, his lawyer, Mark Ierace SC, said.
“There is a concern as to his mental health,” Mr Ierace told the court.
“The only plea at this stage could not be an informed plea,” he said, adding that Naden was having difficulty with his medication.
Naden was captured on March 22 in a remote area near Gloucester in the Upper Hunter region, after years of being on the run.
While hiding out in the bush, it is alleged he broke into several properties between 2007 and 2012, stealing thousands of items of food and clothing, as well as several weapons.
According to court documents, among the items taken were beer, 5kg of raw cashews, a semi-automatic rifle and a book titled Dreams.
Naden has also been charged with two counts of aggravated indecent assault on a 12-year-old girl and the attempted murder of a police officer at Nowendoc on December 7, 2011.
Speaking outside court yesterday, NSW homicide squad commander Detective Superintendent Michael Willing said police believed they had enough evidence to lay the fresh charge.
“In relation to Lateesha’s body, we will continue to investigate the matter and, if there is sufficient evidence to locate it, we will certainly follow it,” he told reporters.
NSW Police Minister Michael Gallacher said it was welcome news for Ms Nolan’s family.
“Now they are getting some ability to get information back to them about Lateesha,” Mr Gallacher said.
The matter has been adjourned until October 16.