A woman charged with the murder of her elderly mother has been granted a variation to her bail in Goulburn Local Court today.
Barbara Mary Eckersley, 66, of Bundanoon, did not appear in court.
Mrs Eckersley is charged with murdering Dr Mary White, 92, who was in a Bundanoon nursing home when she died in August 2018.
Last year, 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 the Southern Highlands after Dr White’s death.
In court today, Eckersley’s solicitor Sam Rowland applied for a bail variation. He also asked for a reduction in her reporting to police to two days a week. She currently reports three days a week to police.
Police prosecutor Gabrielle Weston opposed reduced reporting conditions, saying they were “not onerous at the time”.
“It should be left at three days a week,” Ms Weston said.
Ms Weston said a toxicology report was still outstanding for the police brief of evidence.
Mr Rowland said Eckerlsey, “a well-respected member of the community,” had complied with bail conditions so far and there had been no failure to report to police.
“She has no criminal antecedents,” Mr Rowland said. “I am applying for this bail variation amidst a background of possible further delays in the court.”
Magistrate Geraldine Beattie said she had granted bail to Eckersley in August last year and the conditions at the time included daily reporting to police.
“In October last year, I varied the bail conditions to reporting to police three days a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” Ms Beattie said.
“I appreciate there may be further delays. It may be another 18 weeks before this matter leaves this court.”
She asked Mr Rowland to clarify what the reduction in reporting days a week would mean for his client.
“It is in the context of her good character,” Mr Rowland said.
“She has been reporting every second day: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. This is having an impact on her mental health.
“These are my instructions.”
Magistrate Beattie said that, given the police brief was still outstanding and there could be very lengthy delays, she was persuaded to vary the bail conditions.
“I was persuaded to grant a bail variation back in October to make it three days reporting a week,” she said.
“Now I am being asked to further reduce it. I note the opposition to this bail variation by the police and that a flight risk does still exist.
“But I also accept that it may be some months before it clears this court and then there may be further delay before a trial may be ordered in a higher court.
“I take into account her personal circumstances. She is of good character and I accept the risk of her failing to appear still exists, but there has been no breach to date.
“I am prepared to reduce the reporting days to two a week, to Monday and Friday, but I will not reduce it further.”
She adjourned the matter to February 27 in Goulburn Local Court.