Accused murderer Benjamin Batterham to apply for Supreme Court bail

CONVICTED: Benjamin Batterham, 34, left, leaves Newcastle Local Court with solicitor Peter O'Brien last month. Picture: Brodie Owen
CONVICTED: Benjamin Batterham, 34, left, leaves Newcastle Local Court with solicitor Peter O'Brien last month. Picture: Brodie Owen

ACCUSED murderer Benjamin Batterham will again apply to be released from jail less than a month after a magistrate found he had been “brazenly” and “flagrantly” breaching his bail.  

The NSW Supreme Court bail application comes as Mr Batterham’s legal team, led by top Sydney silk Winston Terracini, SC, and the DPP struggle to find a four-day block of court dates to hold a complex committal hearing into the issue of cause of death. 

Mr Batterham, now 34, is accused of murdering Ricky Slater-Dickson after Mr Slater-Dickson broke into his Cleary Street, Hamilton, home in the early hours of March 26, 2016. 

Benjamin Batterham, left, and Ricky Slater-Dickson, right.

Benjamin Batterham, left, and Ricky Slater-Dickson, right.

He had been on bail since May, 2016, but was taken back into custody last month after it was revealed that for six months he had been “brazenly” breaching the condition that banned him from consuming any alcohol. 

With the two-year anniversary of Mr Slater-Dickson’s death two weeks away, the case remains before the local court with no prospects of a speedy committal and Mr Batterham languishing in jail. Mr Batterham’s legal team seek to explore the issue of cause of death before the matter is committed to the Supreme Court, claiming that Mr Slater-Dickson had a “toxic” and “potentially lethal” level of methylamphetamine in his system that may have contributed to his death. 

But with the prosecution and defence each planning to call some of Australia’s most pre-eminent medical experts, and with Mr Terracini’s diary full with high-profile murder trials, the case has stalled as the parties struggle to find suitable dates to hold the committal hearing. 

It’s also unclear whether the forthcoming departure of Newcastle Local Court Magistrate Ian Cheetham will have an effect on when the committal hearing issue is resolved.

Mr Cheetham, who has read large portions of the voluminous brief of evidence, heard submissions in November last year and ultimately granted the defence application to cross-examine four prosecution witnesses.