Murder suspect applies for bail

James Scott Church, the man accused of murdering Wallarah woman, Liesl Smith, faced the NSW Supreme Court for his bail hearing May 1.
Smith disappeared from Tuggerah Train Station on August 19, 2012.
Smith has not been heard from or seen since, and is believed to be dead.
Church, who had been romantically involved with Smith, has been a person of interest in Smith’s disappearance since 2013.
Church became a prime suspect in the investigation after police learned he had given them a false alibi for the time that she went missing, and was charged with her murder in 2018.
During the hearing, the court was told that Church was one of the last people to see Smith before her disappearance.
Appearing via video link, Church told the court that Smith had phoned him on the day and requested he pick her up from Tuggerah Station.
Church said he assumed she had car trouble and agreed to pick Smith up, dropping her off outside a Wyong bakery, near the address of her then boyfriend.
According to police facts tendered in court, Church originally claimed he had been staying with friends at the time of Smith’s disappearance, but upon investigation, this was found to be untrue.
After Church’s testimony, the prosecution argued that he had motive to want Smith gone after it was revealed she had been interfering in his personal and professional lives.
“She was communicating with his current partner, telling various people she was pregnant to the accused and telling people she had made claims to various industrial bodies in relation to his profession,” Crown Prosecutor, Charisse Hodgeman, told the court, before requesting Church be denied bail.
Church’s lawyer, Manny Conditsis, argued that his client was a victim of circumstance and that several alternative scenarios could have befallen Smith.
Conditsis argued that Smith could very well still be alive and just doesn’t want to be found, before arguing that Smith could have been murdered by her boyfriend at the time or by an unknown person.
The court’s decision regarding Church’s bail is expected to be handed down by the end of May.

Documents, May 1
Transcript and Casefile 2019/00053592, NSW Department of Justice

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