Grazier's wife on murder charges

THE estranged wife and sister-in-law of slain former Casino grazier Jeffrey Ryan will stand trial for his murder in the Supreme Court in September.

Tamworth magistrate Roger Prowse committed Helen Ryan, 49, and her sister Ganene Coulter, 42, to trial yesterday. Their mother, Coralie Coulter, 70, and the alleged hit man, Kenneth Brooks, 45, had their cases held over until August 4 to give their solicitors time to prepare.

All were remanded in custody and appeared via video link.

Police have alleged the three women conspired to murder Mr Ryan by contracting Cessnock pensioner-turned-professional-hit man, Brooks, to shoot Mr Ryan at his Tamworth property last October.

The motive for the killing remains unclear.

The Ryan’s 13-year-old daughter lived with her mother at another dwelling on Mr Ryan’s property at the time of the murder.

Following an extensive investigation by Tamworth detectives and the state homicide squad, Helen Ryan was arrested and charged with murder, conspiracy to murder, perverting the course of justice, and concealing a serious offence in December last year.

A further charge of soliciting to murder was added in February when her sister and mother were arrested for being accessories before and after the fact, and conspiring to murder.

Her mother was also charged with soliciting to murder.

Brooks and his de facto wife, Joeleen Farrell, 28, were arrested at their Cessnock home in February immediately after Helen Ryan had allegedly dropped off the second $15,000 instalment for the killing.

Ganene Coulter and her mother were arrested shortly after.

Brooks also faced minor charges for possession of drugs found on him at the time of his arrest. Mr Prowse dismissed all the charges.

Farrell, 28, who was in court for all of yesterday’s proceedings, was bailed to appear in the local court on September 8.

About 10 years ago, Mr Ryan moved to Tamworth from Casino, where he grew up, to further his cattle breeding ambitions.

His mother and family remain in the Casino region.

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