The case against a man accused of stabbing a love rival in the stomach at a North Wollongong apartment block has taken a sudden and dramatic turn, with police revealing to a court that the victim in the matter is now dead.
Joseph Vervoort, 22, was high on drugs and alcohol when he and his partner's ex-boyfriend, Jarred Woods, came to blows outside the Virginia Street complex in February after Woods turned up at the woman's property unannounced.
Woods was stabbed with a kitchen knife during the melee, police said.
He was later taken to hospital and underwent emergency surgery overnight. Mr Woods recovered from his wounds, but died recently of causes unrelated to the stabbing.
Meanwhile, Vervoort was charged with recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm.
He was remanded in custody at the time, however successfully sought release on bail in Wollongong Local court this week after arguing the case against him had changed substantially with the death of Mr Woods.
Vervoort's lawyer, Justine Hall, said her client would argue he was acting in self-defence when he stabbed Mr Woods, and that the only other person in the vicinity of the melee had not witnessed the incident so could not give evidence either for or against Vervoort's version of events.
She said the strength of the case against her client had therefore significantly weakened without Mr Woods available to give evidence in the trial.
Magistrate Jillian Kiely accepted that the case no longer appeared to be a strong one.
"[The defence of] self-defence has been raised and that can't be adequately refuted now the victim is deceased," she said.
She agreed to grant Vervoort strict bail, ordering him to live with his father, report to police daily, not contact any prosecution witnesses, abide by a nighttime curfew and not take drugs or drink alcohol.
The case will return to court in June.