Man accused of hiring killer

A GOLD Coast man accused of hiring a killer for three murders was denied bail in the Lismore Local Court yesterday.

Protection of the community was uppermost, said Magistrate Robyn Denes, when she knocked back the application from Stephen Ward.

Ward faces three charges of soliciting a hit man to kill three witnesses who could testify against him in upcoming drug trials in Queensland.

It is alleged Ward had a number of conversations that police ‘intercepted’, in which he outlined the details of the murders and the payment the killer could expect.

Defence lawyer Michael Byrne, QC, said while he didn’t dispute the strength of the Crown case, his client was able to post a $300,000 surety based upon a house he owned in Southport.

Ward was prepared to observe any other conditions imposed by the court, and could live with his father at Nerang, Mr Byrne said.

“That would provide an extra incentive for him not to re-offend,” he said.

Mr Byrne said his client was facing charges across two jurisdictions.

A committal hearing in regard to the Queensland charges was imminent and could be dealt with expeditiously, he said.

Giving some of the police facts, Ms Denes said Ward was alleged to have met the potential hit man on May 4, where he nominated two of the people he wanted killed. Their names were written down, along with their addresses, she said.

There was a further meeting on May 19, in which it was discussed how one person was to be killed in their driveway and the body left there, she said.

Payment was also discussed.

Ward was arrested on May 19 in the company of another man when they pulled up at Northern Rivers Seafood, on the Pacific Highway at Ballina, about 12.35pm.

Ms Denes said that while Ward was not a flight risk, she did not believe that any conditions of bail would protect the witnesses.

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