Cobram death: John Torney charged over Emma Bates’ death is withdrawing from addictive drugs in custody

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Remy Varga
The Nightly
John Torney has been charged over the death of Cobram woman Emma Bates.
John Torney has been charged over the death of Cobram woman Emma Bates. Credit: AH/AAPIMAGE

The man arrested after the violent death of a woman in a town in Victoria’s far north is withdrawing from addictive drugs in custody, a court has heard.

John Torney reportedly stuck his middle finger up at reporters inside Shepparton Magistrate’s Court on Friday and did not apply for bail. He did not speak during the brief hearing.

The 39-year-old has been charged after his neighbour Emma Bates was found dead on Tuesday at her home on Murray Road in Cobram, a town that straddles the Victorian and NSW border and is divided by the Murray River.

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Ms Bates, 49, lived with type one diabetes and required the use of a mobility scooter. Ms Bates and Mr Torney had recently started dating.

Court documents reveal Mr Torney is facing 13 charges including persistently and knowingly contravening a family violence order, intentionally injuring the 49-year-old and unlawful assault alleged to have occurred between Saturday and Tuesday.

Emma Bates was found dead at her home on Tuesday afternoon. Her partner has been charged with a series of offences.
Emma Bates was found dead at her home on Tuesday afternoon. Credit: 7NEWS

Details of the alleged family violence order breaches include Torney approaching and contacting Ms Bates between April 20 and April 23, according to charge sheets.

Mr Torney’s lawyer Kyle McLaughlin told Shepparton Magistrate’s Court his client identified as Indigenous and was withdrawing from a drug of dependence but said he did not know which substance.

“I don’t have exact instructions on that front,” said Mr McLaughlin.

The court heard Mr McLaughlin had other matters due to appear before Cobram Magistrate’s Court.

Mr Torney, wearing a green sweater, clenched his hands during the hearing before sticking his middle finger up at reporters inside the courtroom.

Ms Bates reportedly lived alone with several cats and was the aunt to 17 nieces and nephews.

Outside Shepparton Magistrate’s Court on Friday her family told reporters they were relieved Mr Torney had not applied for bail and had feared his release.

The matter will next appear before court on May 21.

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