Benjamin Batterham facing threat to his freedom a day after drink-drive conviction

CONVICTED: Benjamin Patrick Batterham, 34, left, leaves Newcastle Local Court with solicitor Peter O'Brien after being sentenced for high-range drink driving on Thursday. Picture: Brodie Owen
CONVICTED: Benjamin Patrick Batterham, 34, left, leaves Newcastle Local Court with solicitor Peter O'Brien after being sentenced for high-range drink driving on Thursday. Picture: Brodie Owen

BENJAMIN Patrick Batterham “put everyone in jeopardy” the night he got behind the wheel after a heavy drinking session, he was told on Thursday.

But another risk will come on Friday when the accused killer faces a threat to his freedom as a magistrate decides whether to lock him up for being in breach of his strict bail conditions.

The 34-year-old will front Newcastle Local Court, just a day after being convicted of high-range drink-driving, to face a detention application brought by police.

Batterham – who is accused of the 2016 murder of Ricky Slater-Dickson at Hamilton – admitted to being more than three times over the legal limit when he was pulled over by police on Glebe Road at Adamstown shortly before 1am on January 14.

Ricky Slater-Dickson.

Ricky Slater-Dickson.

Police had earlier tried to pull him over at New Lambton but he did not stop and instead “made a hard left turn” onto another street and “nearly collided with the centre median strip”, the facts state.

The alleged killer had been on strict bail conditions, including that he not consume any alcohol, at the time of the arrest.

Magistrate Robert Stone told Batterham he put everything on the line.

“You took a risk. A real risk,” he said on Thursday.

“The risk was not only about your bail conditions, but the fact you put everyone in jeopardy by driving on the road.

“You didn’t even see, it appears, the officers that were pulling you over. 

“Or if you did see them, you were shutting your eyes to the fact that you would breach your bail.”

Batterham’s solicitor, Peter O’Brien, told the court his client learnt a “strong lesson” and knew the “desperate and dangerous” position he put himself in. “He’s thoroughly sorry and ashamed of what he’s done,” he said.

Mr O’Brien said Batterham was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and was on Antabuse, medication which is used to treat alcoholism.

He said the chef by trade was “focused on the state of his health and family” and “hasn’t touched alcohol” since the January arrest.

“He’s doing the best he can to get his life back on track,” he said.

Mr Stone fined Batterham $500, disqualified him from driving for six months and ordered he complete 100 hours of community service. He will also install an interlock device on his car.

“Pity help you if you disobey that order,” he said.

Previous court appearances have heard that Batterham intends to fight the detention application based on a “threshold issue”.

A committal hearing on the murder charge is set down for May.