A MAGISTRATE has denied bail for the man charged with killing a Bingara man, as well as his friend who is accused of concealing the deadly crime nine years ago.
Bruce Anthony Coss and Robert James Stonestreet both had their bids for release refused in Moree Local Court on Monday. Both are charged in connection to Darren Royce Willis' 2010 murder.
Coss, 48, is alleged to have struck Mr Willis near his Bingara home, killing him, before dumping the body at an unknown location. Mr Willis' remains still haven't been found.
"It is an historical case," Coss' solicitor Peter Kemp told the court. "Historical cases are well-known for evidence being erased with the passage of time."
Mr Kemp argued that his client, whose record shows no breaches of bail or failures to appear in court, would be "more vulnerable than most" in a custodial setting due to his chronic hip, back and shoulder problems.
But magistrate Roger Prowse found he was a flight risk and denied his application for bail, finding that he hadn't shown cause as to why his detention was not justified.
"It's a very strong case and there's been a clear announcement that you're a flight risk," Mr Prowse said.
"Not only haven't you shown cause, even if you had, foreshadowed bail conditions wouldn't be suitable to mitigate the risk of interference with witnesses or evidence."
Stonestreet, who is charged with concealing Mr Willis' murder all those years ago, was also denied bail on Monday afternoon.
The court heard that Stonestreet, 47 - who lives in Bingara with his parents and works on three rural properties in the area - was not a flight risk due to his strong family and community ties.
Mr Kemp also noted Stonestreet's "good record", which shows only a $70 fine for an offensive language offence. He lodged a bid for bail, telling the court Stonestreet could be bailed to live with his parents.
However, police prosecutor Sergeant Crystal Jones opposed bail for Stonestreet, especially as police are still searching for Mr Willis' remains.
"This is a serious offence before the court," she said.
The prosecution has submitted that Mr Stonestreet has deliberately withheld information which has frustrated police in relation to the murder of Mr Willis.Police prosecutor Sergeant Crystal Jones
"The prosecution has submitted that Mr Stonestreet has deliberately withheld information which has frustrated police in relation to the murder of Mr Willis.
"Mr Stonestreet was [alleged to have been] present when the murder occurred and withheld that information from the investigation.
"If Mr Stonestreet is released from custody, there's a risk of interference with witnesses and evidence."
Ms Jones told the court that police had information that led them to believe Stonestreet was aware of the "general location" of Mr Willis' remains.
"There's no factual evidence backing the submission, but given the remains are still out there, it is a concern," she said.
There's no factual evidence backing the submission, but given the remains are still out there, it is a concern.Police prosecutor Sergeant Crystal Jones
Mr Prowse found there was a risk and denied Stonestreet bail, adjourning both cases to mid-November.
Both men were not required to enter pleas to their charges on Monday.
The pair have been in custody since their arrest in Bingara on Friday by officers from Strike Force Barca - the police operation that has been investigating Mr Willis' murder.
Coss is charged with killing Mr Willis after a night out at the Imperial Hotel in Bingara on December 10, 2010. Stonestreet is only charged with concealing a serious offence.
On Friday, after the arrests, detectives also raided two Bingara homes, executing what they said were "crime scene warrants", where they allege they found goods connected to the suspected murder.
Officers seized electronic devices, documentation and "other items relevant to the investigation", New England Superintendent Scott Tanner confirmed.
Superintendent Tanner said police would push on with the investigation in a bid to find Mr Willis' remains. A $350,000 reward is still in place for answers in the case.