Accused wife killer wins bail application

Jodie Fesus

Jodie Fesus

AN accused wife killer has been granted bail in the first murder case to test the state's new bail laws.

Steve Fesus, 43, allegedly strangled his wife Jodie in 1997 and dumped her body in a shallow beachside grave at a popular camping ground at Seven Mile Beach at Gerroa, where it was discovered a month later.

Mr Fesus was charged with murder in 2013, almost 17 years after Ms Fesus went missing from the couple's Mount Warrigal home.

He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

The father-of-three was granted bail by Justice Michael Adams on Monday following a marathon two-hour application in the NSW Supreme Court.

Justice Adams's reasons for granting Mr Fesus bail cannot be published.

Crown prosecutor Sally Dowling's argument against bail and Mr Fesus's lawyer Dennis Moralis's argument for bail have also been suppressed.

A major overhaul of controversial bail laws came into effect on May 20, making it easier for an accused criminal to be bailed if there is no risk to the community.

Under previous laws, every criminal charge carried an automatic bail presumption, either in favour, against or neutral.

Under new laws, the presumption has been abolished.

Instead, a case-by-case risk assessment model is adopted and bail is determined based on whether the accused poses a serious risk to community safety, is likely to commit further crimes or is likely to abscond.

Accused criminals can re-apply for bail if previous concerns can be mitigated by strict conditions.

Then-premier Barry O'Farrell and then-attorney-general Greg Smith said the new bail system was “simpler” and would eliminate the “presumptions” system because it was too often resulting in bail decisions which sometimes don't seem to make sense”.

Murder was one offence that had an automatic presumption against bail under the old system.

“Our reforms will ensure the risk to the community is the first thing taken into account,” Mr O'Farrell said when announcing the reforms in 2012.

Mr Fesus has been ordered to report to Wollongong police station twice daily, not to approach prosecution witnesses and to forfeit $1000 if he breaches his bail. 


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