The bail application: Accused ‘unacceptable risk’

A MAGISTRATE has told a Moree court no amount of money or strict conditions could mitigate the unacceptable risk an accused murderer poses.

Moree Courthouse: The tranquility of the grounds belied the tragedy of the unfolding drama inside yesterday. 050814GGA07

Moree Courthouse: The tranquility of the grounds belied the tragedy of the unfolding drama inside yesterday. 050814GGA07

Ian Robert Turnbull will remain behind bars after he lost his bid for release on bail in Moree Local Court yesterday, despite a 10 point release “regime” submitted on his behalf.

Magistrate Darryl Pearce said the murder case against the 79-year-old Croppa Creek farmer was strong and the seriousness of the alleged offence was “extremely high”.

Mr Pearce said if Turnbull was convicted, he “would serve out the rest of his natural life in jail for murder.”

It was the first time Turnbull has lodged a bail application after he was arrested at his home about 11pm on July 29 and charged with the murder of Office of Environment and Heritage worker Glen Turner.

Yesterday in court, Turnbull was charged with detaining a person with intent to commit 

a serious indictable offence and common assault, following the alleged altercation in front of Robert Strange, but is yet to enter a plea.

As part of a fresh release application, barrister for Turnbull, Hament Dhanji SC, submitted a 10 point list of conditions proposed for his client to be released on bail and reside in a home in Cremorne in Sydney while the case progresses.

“A regime that could be put in place for this applicant,” he told the court.

He said his client could raise more than $5 million as surety from one or more acceptable persons and report to Mosman police daily and surrender his passport, to mitigate any risk of failing to appear and ensuring he was away from any witnesses.

Mr Dhanji said on the facts of the case, while it was not accepted, as it stood, there was “no anger beyond the deceased”, and no animosity was shown towards the witness, “it’s in a sense directed ... and therefore isolated.”

He argued the case will take significant time to get to the Supreme Court and that would weigh heavily with the accused’s needs to be at liberty, and to “instruct his legal representatives and further the aspect of his age and medical conditions.”

“He is going to be significantly older by the time this is resolved,” Mr Dhanji said.

“The applicants age, his conditions are not going to get any better,” further adding “they would get worse.”

It came as the DPP claimed the alleged murder was at the higher end of the scale in terms of culpability.

The DPP argued Turnbull posed three unacceptable risks including committing another serious offence, interfering with evidence and the safety of witnesses and the community.

DPP solicitor Joanne Smith said “the accused has not just been angry” with the Office of Environment and Heritage worker “but also the people who have reported his and his families’ activities.”

Ms Smith said workers employed by the Turnbull family “are not cooperating with the police investigation...and it is believed by the police they have information that might assist.”

During the hearing, Mr Dhanji dismissed the particular claim and said there was no submission his client “has anything to do with the employees.”

“The applicant himself was cooperative ... in a sense he went back to the house and said he was going to wait for police,” he told the court.

Magistrate Pearce said the dispute at hand boiled down to the “right of the defendant and others to clear their land” and the right of parliament to regulate it.

“There is friction within this particular block of land,” he said.

Mr Pearce said Turnbull allegedly “carried out his threats” on July 29 and because he already had matters before the Land and Environment Court and the “ongoing friction, dispute” in the background meant bail must be refused.

“No amount of money or conditions could mitigate the unacceptable risk,” he said.

The case has been adjourned to September to allow police to compile a brief of evidence.

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