Accused wife killer Steve Fesus remarked ‘‘It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?’’ as he walked out of the Wollongong Local Court complex on Wednesday.
Fesus, who was granted bail in the NSW Supreme Court earlier this week, was present in court for the mention of his murder charge.
The 43-year-old security guard allegedly strangled his wife Jodie in 1997 and dumped her body in shallow beachside grave near Gerroa, where it was discovered a month later.
He was charged with murder last year, almost 17 years after Ms Fesus went missing from the couple’s Mount Warrigal home.
He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.
The father-of-three was granted bail by Justice Michael Adams on Monday.
He is the first accused murderer to be released after changes came into effect to the Bail NSW Act, making it easier for an accused criminal to be bailed if there is no risk to the community.
Asked by waiting media how he felt about getting bail, Fesus replied: ‘‘It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?’’
Outside the court, Belinda Wright, the older sister of Ms Fesus, said seeing Fesus on Wednesday was extremely difficult for her.
‘‘The only thing that has changed in this case is that he is free,’’ Ms Wright said.
‘‘The case is still strong and everything is exactly where it’s supposed to be, except that he’s just about to walk out that door (referring to the entrance of the court house) free and that’s one of the hardest days.
‘‘I’ve never seen anything like it. I nearly died when I walked in there seeing that.
‘‘We’ve got an accused murderer free but there were two people just refused bail and they were (in court) for car driving incidences.’’
Ms Wright, who was visibly upset, said Fesus’ bail had unsettled her.
‘‘It’s upsetting, it’s sad, because after 16 years he gets put away and that’s good and then next minute he tries to get out and he can’t,’’ she said. ‘‘And then it’s hold on, we’ll just let you out now.’’
During Wednesday’s proceedings before magistrate Michael Stoddart, a neatly dressed Fesus sat in the public gallery accompanied by two people.
Crown prosecutor Ananda Amaranath urged for a date to be set for a paper committal, stating that the crown brief had been served many months ago.
‘‘This case is 17 years old,’’ he said. ‘‘Some witnesses are getting old and it’s not beyond the realm of possibilities for some witnesses to die before this matter goes to trial.’’
A representative for the NSW Police Commissioner tendered two boxes of evidence.
Solicitor Martin Rowney asked for a two-week adjournment stating that the material received from the commissioner’s office was highly relevant in a circumstantial case.
The case has been set down for mention on July 11 in Port Kembla Local Court to set a date for a paper committal.