THE trial for the Walcha widow accused of killing her partner in an elaborate plan to inherit his farm has been put off indefinitely amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Natasha Beth Darcy's two-month murder trial was due to begin next week in Sydney, but has now been vacated. And, there is no concrete date on when it will get off the ground.
Justice Julia Lonergan vacated the eight-week trial during a hearing of the case in Sydney's NSW Supreme Court. She is yet to rule on a new start date.
Darcy remains behind bars.
The NSW Supreme Court - like most courts - has become a no-go zone amid the coronavirus pandemic, with jury trials abandoned and virtual hearings heard. Personal appearances by accused and solicitors were banned in courtrooms for two months in a bid to try and minimise the spread of the virus.
But the court is moving to get off the ground with criminal jury trials to resume from the end of June - a month after Darcy's murder trial was due to begin.
Fewer cases will be heard because two courtooms will be needed for each trial to "accommodate social distancing requirements".
The court confirmed earlier this month that 13 criminal trials were delayed due to the pandemic, while five accused in four trials have elected for a trial by judge-alone.
In November last year, Darcy pleaded not guilty to murdering Mathew Dunbar near Walcha more than two years ago.
After Darcy formally entered her not guilty plea, the Crown and defence determined the eight-week trial should be heard in Sydney, not Tamworth.
Darcy stands accused of murdering Mr Dunbar on August 2, 2017, on his property, Pandora. Detectives allege she killed him in order to inherit the farm.
Oxley police set up Strike Force Ballin in the wake of Mr Dunbar's death, to investigate the circumstances surrounding it. The death was labelled suspicious at the time by senior police.
The Leader revealed in 2017 that it was the police case Darcy had lied to investigators; used aliases and false names to allegedly source drugs; and made then deleted web browser searches on how to commit murder.
Police will allege many of those searches related to certain methods of causing death that are undetectable or hard to locate during a post mortem, and were allegedly deleted from her phone but recovered by police.
The court has previously been told the case against Darcy is voluminous.
She was arrested in Walcha in November 2017, three months after the 42-year-old's death.
Darcy has been behind bars since.