Mrs Beryl Dickson, mum to murdered man Ricky Slater.
Mrs Beryl Dickson, mum to murdered man Ricky Slater. Sam Rigney - Newcastle Herald

Ballina family’s grief after break-in murder

THE man accused of the break-in murder of Ricky Slater-Dickson will remain in custody until at least May after he declined to apply for bail in Newcastle Local Court on Monday.

For the second straight day, more than a dozen of Mr Slater-Dickson's family - many who had flown down from Ballina - went to court to see the man accused of murdering the 34-year-old during an alleged break-in at a home in the early hours of Saturday morning.

But Benjamin Batterham chose not to appear via audio visual link from Cessnock Correctional Centre during a brief mention of the matter.

He did not enter a plea to a charge of murder.

Magistrate Andrew Eckhold adjourned the matter until May 25.

Outside of court Mr Slater-Dickson's mother, Ballina woman Beryl Dickson, cried and said she wanted answers about her son's death.

She said he had left behind three daughters.

"They have lost their father," she said.

"Just to think them little kids are going to grow up without a dad now."

Court documents state Mr Batterham, who turned 33 on Tuesday, allegedly murdered Mr Slater-Dickson between 3.30am on Saturday - the time of the alleged break-in - and 11.20am on Easter Sunday, when Mr Slater-Dickson's life support was switched off.

Mr Batterham is alleged to have discovered Mr Slater-Dickson inside his home before a fight broke out.

Police said Mr Slater-Dickson was "detained' by Mr Batterham and a friend, 32.

But a short time later Mr Slater-Dickson lost consciousness.

It's believed Mr Slater-Dickson may have been placed in a chokehold.

He was taken to John Hunter Hospital, but never regained consciousness.

His life support machine was switched off at 11.30am on Sunday.

Mr Batterham, who had previously been charged with recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm, handed himself into police and was charged with murder.

The 32-year-old man has not been charged.

The case has stirred up significant emotion about the issue of self defence, with debate raging on social media and in online petitions about what a person can legally do to defend their home and family.

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