Police prosecutors gave killer dad Greg Anderson a free pass on bail eight months before he murdered his son, believing their case against him was weak.
Anderson killed 11-year-old Luke Batty with a cricket bat and knife in February as they played together in the nets at the Tyabb oval after cricket training.
He had walked free from police custody in June 2013 when police did not oppose bail at a Melbourne court hearing.
Prosecutor Leading Senior Constable Bronwyn Martin told the inquest into Luke’s death she had been told not to oppose bail and therefore only read the first page of the police evidence against Anderson.
She admitted that had she read the entire brief of evidence, she would’ve learned Anderson was in a “show cause” situation which put the onus on him to convince the court he should be released.
Her superior officer, Sergeant Stephen Neville, said he made the call not to fight bail due to Anderson’s lack of criminal past and his plans to move from his car into steady accommodation.
Anderson was arrested in late May after failing to turn up to court to answer charges of assaulting and threatening to kill Luke’s mother, Rosie Batty.
A magistrate subsequently kept him in custody due to his lack of steady accommodation, with Anderson living out of his car.
But when Anderson next applied for bail on June 11, after 11 days in custody, he had secured a permanent home.
Sgt Neville said the police informant for the assault matter had also not pushed for prosecutors to oppose bail.
“I still don’t see any evidence that suggests at that time he should’ve been remanded in custody,” Sgt Neville told Victorian Coroners Court.
He described the assault and threat to kill case against Anderson as weak.
Had the charges stuck, he said they would have likely resulted in a fine for Anderson.
“Both incidents are minor compared to the many serious crime family violence matters the come before the courts.”
Sgt Neville also said a culture of “cover your own backside” and “let the magistrate decide” existed among police prosecutors.
Given the unpredictability of family violence matters, Sgt Neville said prosecutors often felt it was best to furnish the magistrate with details and allow them to determine bail.
The inquest continues.