Man's DNA linked to bloody cricket bat home invasion

FOUR years after a bloody Nambucca Heads home invasion during which a man was beaten with a cricket bat, police charged Coffs man Steven Michael McDonell with the crime.

Police claim that the arrest came after DNA evidence linked McDonnell to the scene.

Now the "devoted father" has been granted bail to care for his two young sons ahead of his District Court trial in April.

The Nambucca Heads home invasion occurred on February 5, 2012 - but McDonell wasn't charged until 2016.

The 33-year-old has since pleaded not guilty to two counts of aggravated break and enter in company and will stand trial in the Lismore District Court.

A bail hearing on Wednesday heard McDonell was taken into custody after he failed to front court in September and November over unrelated charges.

The court heard that during his arrest he was "not cooperative" with police and tried to dispose of some drugs in his possession, which included cannabis, three tabs of LSD, and more than 3g of ice.

On Wednesday the Crown opposed bail on the risk of McDonell again failing to appear before the court.

The Crown argued the prosecution case was a strong one and a jail sentence was "inevitable" if the accused was convicted.

However, McDonell's lawyer presented compelling evidence that the accused was a dedicated dad with the sole full-time care of two young boys who both had learning difficulties, and one with severe hearing problems.

An independent reference from a doctor stated that he was "meticulous" in taking his boys to their medical appointments and had shown "great care" for his sons' welfare.

The reference was echoed by a positive document from the day care centre the boys' attended.

The court also heard that McDonell wanted to attend a hearing date on an unrelated matter in mid-February in the Federal Circuit Court.

Judge Sweeney said McDonell should be granted bail.

"I would not say there has been a frequent pattern of failing to appear," she said.

She said McDonell also had "strong reasons to be at liberty" to care for his children and to attend the other court hearing.

McDonell will reside at a Coffs Harbour address, and report daily to Coffs Harbour police station.

His trial will start in April.



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