Valley woman linked to murder
A 41-YEAR-old Tyndale woman facing charges of being an accessory and conspiring to murder a farmer killed in a shotgun hit near Tamworth late last year was refused bail when she appeared in Grafton Court yesterday.
Ganene Gaye Coulter, of Pacific Highway, faced charges of being an accessory before the fact in the murder of former Casino grazier Jeffrey Ryan at his property at Duri, near Tamworth, last October, an accessory after the fact to the murder, conspiracy to murder and possession of a prohibited drug.
It is alleged Coulter, her sister and her mother conspired to murder Mr Ryan by hiring a hit man to shoot him. Mr Ryan was killed by a shotgun blast to the back on October 23 last year.
During a lengthy bail hearing Coulter frequently swallowed and pursed her lips as she looked around the courtroom.
Her partner and another man described as her ‘patient’ were the only people in the gallery and she mouthed what appeared to be ‘I love you’ and ‘do you love me’ in their direction before proceedings began.
The prosecution opposed bail, saying three of the four other people facing charges in the matter had been refused bail.
Coulter’s solicitor, Paul O’Connor, attacked the police facts, questioning whether they were admissible evidence.
He characterised them as full of ‘sweeping assertions’ and containing ‘no direct quotes’ from the police phone taps of the alleged conspirators.
“They appear to be the reasoned interpretation of a person with the intent to bring this person into these events,” he told the court.
Mr O’Connor drew attention to a police claim that Coulter put $100 into the account of her alleged co-conspirator and sister Helen Ryan. They say that Ryan used this money to buy petrol for a journey to meet the alleged hit man, Kenneth Brooks.
Mr O’Connor said there was no evidence in the facts that Coulter transferred the money to Ryan with this intention.
“Her sister rang to say she needed some money; there’s no evidence that she knew about the fallout that would occur,” he said.
Registrar Marie Robertson declined bail, saying Coulter could reapply for bail before a magistrate at Monday’s Grafton Local Court sitting.
Yesterday’s bail hearing was the latest part of a statewide police operation to net the alleged conspirators.
Officers from Strike Force Chandler have executed five warrants across the State, also rearresting Mr Ryan’s estranged wife Helen and two others from Cessnock.
Police will allege that in a complex conspiracy, the three women conspired to murder Mr Ryan, contracting Cessnock pensioner Kenneth Brooks, 45, to travel to Tamworth in October and carry out the hit.
Brooks and his de facto wife Joeleen Farrell, 28, were arrested at their Cessnock home on Wednesday, immediately after Mrs Ryan allegedly personally delivered the final instalment of $15,000 for her husband’s execution-style murder. Police will allege Mrs Ryan had already delivered a down payment of $15,000.
The payment allegedly sprung a sophisticated trap set by Strike Force Chandler detectives who pounced on the Cessnock couple before executing warrants for the three Coulter women in Grafton and Tamworth.
Brooks and Farrell appeared in Maitland Local Court on Thursday. He was charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder and was remanded in custody; she was charged with being an accessory and allowed bail.
Mrs Ryan and her mother Coralie Coulter, 70, were arrested and charged in Tamworth on Thursday and refused bail.
Mrs Ryan has been additionally charged with solicit to murder. She is already charged with murder; conspiracy to murder; acting to pervert the course of justice; and concealing a serious offence.
The elderly Mrs Coulter was charged with being an accessory before and after the fact, conspiracy to murder and solicit to murder.
Casino detectives briefed the Ryan family in Casino yesterday.
Speaking out for the first time since the latest arrests, Mr Ryan’s mother Marie said the family was still coming to terms with the developments.
“We’re coping,” she said.
Detective Sergeant John Sommers from Strike Force Chandler said the arrests were a long time coming but the investigation still had ‘some way to go’.
Additional material Dominic Feain.