Molly Ticehurst murder case: NSW police failed to oppose bail of alleged murderer Daniel Billings

Headshot of Remy Varga
Remy Varga
The Nightly
4 Min Read
Molly Ticehurst, 28, was allegedly murdered by an ex-partner in Forbes.
Molly Ticehurst, 28, was allegedly murdered by an ex-partner in Forbes. Credit: Supplied

NSW Police has defended not formally opposing the bail of the former partner of allegedly murdered mum Molly Ticehurst because the police prosecutor warned of risks to her safety during a 12-minute bail hearing just weeks before her death.

New details of how Daniel Billings was released on bail just weeks before Ms Ticehurst’s death have emerged amid mounting anger over the increasing number of women allegedly killed by men in Australia this year.

Coordinated rallies decrying violence against women are scheduled to take place in 17 cities across Australia this weekend.

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On Friday NSW Police launched a new search for Sydney woman Jessica Zrinski, who vanished in 2022, in the Jenolan State Forest, about 160km southwest of Sydney.

Meanwhile in Victoria’s far north, John Torney fronted Shepparton Magistrates Court facing a slew of charges after the violent death of his neighbour Emma Bates in the town of Cobram on the NSW and Victorian border.

Ticehurst, a childcare worker and mother-of-one, became at least the 25th woman allegedly killed by a man in Australia this year after her body was found at her home in the town of Forbes, about 370km west of Sydney, on Monday.

Since her death it has emerged that Billings had been charged with three counts of sexual intercourse without consent and four charges of stalking and intimidation as well as recklessly destroying Ticehurst’s car window and a pedestal fan as well as aggravated animal cruelty against her 12-week-old dachshund puppy.

Billings, an amateur boxer from Queensland, had been released on an interim apprehended violence order and a $5000 bail by a registrar at Dubbo Local Court on April 6.

Transcripts from the 12-minute bail hearing reveal that NSW Police Prosecutor Edward Knight warned the registrar about the seriousness of the allegations made against Billings and that his “concerning behaviour” fit the pattern of a domestic violence abuser.

“The evidence in the facts seems fairly detailed and gives examples of quite concerning behaviour that are indicative of features in domestic violence offenders that we see often come to light after the most disturbing of conclusions to their conduct,” he said.

“That is, an inability to let go of the relationship. A feeling of possessiveness and jealousness over the woman.”

Mr Knight said Billings was facing the “most serious type” of allegations, had made repeated threats against Ticehurst and knew where she lived.

Daniel Billings (pictured) was charged over the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Molly Ticehurst Unknown
Daniel Billings (pictured) was charged over the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Molly Ticehurst Unknown Credit: Unknown/Supplied

But Mr Knight did not make a formal submission that bail should not be granted, instead asking the court to carefully consider any conditions to ensure they protected Ms Ticehurst.

“Those things are obvious from the facts themselves and in my submission the Court ought to scrutinise carefully any proposed bail conditions to see if really do mitigate that risk given what the defendant has said in the fact sheet,” he said.

Police do not have to oppose bail for it to be denied. Earlier this week NSW Police told The Nightly they had opposed the release of Billings on bail.

The registrar said he appreciated the seriousness of the charges against Billings but granted the 29-year-old bail because he had no criminal record.

A NSW Police spokesperson said Mr Knight presented an extensive argument against Billings’ release at the bail hearing.

“This argument outlined several reasons about the risks posed by the accused, outlining why the accused’s release application should be refused,” said the spokesperson.

“These included specific threats made by the accused against Ms Ticehurst.”

Ticehurst’s tragic death has triggered a NSW government review of bail laws that will examine the role of registrars granting bail, which is a long running practice at regional courts on the weekend when magistrates are unavailable.

On Wednesday NSW Premier Chris Minns said announced the State Government was seeking urgent advice over whether to overhaul the State’s bail laws as he conceded the state government had failed Ticehurst.

On Friday NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said she would support changing bail laws so that only magistrates were allowed to make decisions on serious crimes such as stalking and sexual assault.

“When I saw the attorney’s announcement (about the review), he was clear that one of those suggestions being considered was that a prosecutor or a magistrate consider bail, rather than a registrar,” she told Sydney radio 2GB.

“I support that if that’s where the government lands.”

Ms Webb, the first female commissioner of NSW Police, said domestic violence was a scourge with incidents taking up about 60 per cent or more of police general duty time.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re in Sydney, or you’re in regional New South Wales,” she said.

“It’s a scourge.”

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