Man charged with assisted accused murderer 'afraid' so misses hearing

AN Avoca man charged in connection to the alleged murder of missing Deer Park man Ricky Lee Ganly failed to appear in a Ballarat court on Thursday due to threats to his safety, his lawyer said. 

FILE IMAGE

FILE IMAGE

Stuart Hutchinson, 30, is charged with assisting Ganly’s accused murderer, Jesse Willis.

Hutchinson was due to face a committal mention hearing in Ballarat Magistrates Court on Thursday, but didn’t appear because of threats he had received in recent weeks. 

Hutchinson’s lawyer, David Tamanika, told the court there were “concerns” for his client’s safety if brought to Ballarat for court proceedings. 

Mr Tamanika said Hutchinson had instructed him that he would plead guilty to the charge of assisting an offender. 

Meanwhile, the man charged with Ganly’s murder, Jesse Willis, 28, of Maryborough, did appear briefly in Ballarat Magistrates Court on Thursday for a committal mention hearing. 

Willis was arrested and charged with murder on January 19 this year, the same day police hauled Mr Ganly’s Magna sedan and a body from the bottom of a flooded Avoca mine. 

Mr Ganly, 48, was last seen by his girlfriend at his Doherty Street home in Deer Park about 12pm on Sunday, April 28, last year.

Willis was remanded in custody and will reappear in Ballarat Magistrates Court on September 17 and 18 for a two-day committal hearing. 

That hearing will decide if there is enough evidence for the matter to go to trial in the Supreme Court. 

Magistrate Michelle Hodgson ordered Hutchinson, who is on bail, to appear in a court, which The Courier has chosen not to name, on June 25 for a further committal mention hearing.

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