A woman has been granted bail on a charge of murder in Goulburn Local Court today.
Barbara Mary Eckersley, 66, of Bundanoon appeared on charges of the murder of her 92-year-old mother, who was in a Bundanoon nursing home.
Police said in a statement before the court hearing that on Sunday August 5 about 9.35pm, they were called to an aged care facility in Bundanoon in the Southern Highlands after the death of a 92-year-old woman at the complex.
Eckersley appeared in the dock in Goulburn Local Court on Friday August 10.
She applied for bail though her barrister Hugh White (no relation to the deceased) and sat with her head bowed throughout the bail application.
Mr White argued there were five reasons to grant bail to Eckersley.
“Firstly, her subjective case is that she is a 66-year-old woman of impeccable character and no prior criminal history,” Mr White said.
“Secondly, the Crown Case is by no means conclusive and a custodial sentence may not be imposed even if she is convicted.
“Thirdly, the delay if bail is refused today could be lengthy. It could take up to 18 months for it to be finalised in the Supreme Court.
“Mrs Eckersley has ongoing health issues that need to be addressed, including possible psychological or psychiatric issues.
“She has recently lost her mother and she needs time to grieve with her family and she will not be able to do that in custody.”
Mr White told the bail hearing there had been ongoing issues at the nursing home in the years leading up to Dr White’s death.
Dr White had vascular dementia and was unable to speak or recognise her family, the court heard.
Dr White's family believed she was often in pain and discomfort, a fact disputed by the nursing home.
For the prosecution, Sergeant Gabrielle Weston said it was a “very serious offence”.
“Regarding the possible health issues Mr White has raised, including psychological or psychiatric issues, there is nothing before the court to support that,” Sgt Weston said.
“I would say that in this instance that show cause has not been demonstrated.”
Magistrate Geraldine Beattie weighed up the arguments for and against and decided to grant bail to Eckersley.
“There is a real basis in the possible delay until a trial and for her to be on remand for that long alone shows cause,” Ms Beattie said.
“Against this is the strength of the case in the police facts.
“Mrs Eckersley has been cooperative with the police upon arrest. I accept she has strong community ties and this is relevant to the likelihood of her committing further offences.”
She granted Eckersley conditional bail and adjourned the matter to return to Goulburn Local Court on October 3.
The conditions of her bail are that she: reside in Bundanoon and not approach prosecution witnesses or the Warrigal Aged Care facility in Bundanoon.
Ms Beattie also ordered Eckersley to surrender her passport and sought $20,000 surety on the bail.