Lismore pensioner refused bail

PENSIONER Michael Latter has been refused bail in Lismore Local Court after being found with $32,000 stashed inside his caravan and accused of pouring methylated spirits onto a woman's face and setting it alight.

Latter, 44, of The Palms Caravan Park in Lismore, was arrested earlier this month and faces a list of charges including assault; dealing with property suspected to be proceeds of crime; possession and supply of prohibited drugs on August 6 and 7 (including crystal methamphetamine and cannabis leaf), and; possession of a restricted substance (MS Contin pills).

The matter went before Magistrate Robyn Denes on Monday, with defence lawyer Tom Trembath arguing for his client's release because it would be some time before the charges could be heard in Lismore District Court. The bail application was opposed by police.

The woman, the alleged victim of the assault, later went to police and in a search of Latter's caravan, drugs were allegedly found.

Mr Trembath said Latter was on a disability support pension, had been living in the Lismore region for 10 years and was the owner of the caravan. He argued there was no need for the woman to go near the caravan park.

He said Latter had been on a methadone program for 10 years and attended the Riverland's centre daily where he received 200 milligrams of methadone and it would be difficult for him to leave the area.

He said Roseanne Alexander, a friend of Latter's for 20 years, was prepared to lodge $1000 as a surety and another friend, Sharon Browning, would agree to forfeit something similar.

After reading police facts, Ms Denes said Latter had not acted in a particularly rational way, as it was alleged he poured liquid onto the woman then held a lighter over her saying, “I'm going to burn you”. He then lit the lighter and the woman allegedly felt flames to her eye area.

Ms Denes said Latter was also accused of saying to the woman “I'll put you in the ground” and thrust a steak knife toward her, which she was able to block, receiving a puncture wound to her hand.

Describing it as a strong prosecution case, Ms Denes said Latter also threatened to burn the woman's house down, and although he was on the methadone program, “clearly he is topping up with something”.

The magistrate said the $32,000 was not an insignificant amount of money and she said the proposed $1000 surety was insignificant as she would think it required consideration of tens of thousands of dollars.

Ms Denes refused Latter bail, with the case adjourned to October.

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