Bell on bail in $2m theft case

ON BAIL: Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell leaves the Mount Gambier Courthouse today after a brief hearing. Pictures: LEON RADEMEYER

MEMBER for Mount Gambier Troy Bell has appeared in court for the first time after being charged with the theft of more than $2m dollars.

Troy Stephen Bell, 43, appeared in the Mount Gambier Magistrates Court represented by Heidi Hancock today facing 20 counts of theft and six counts of dishonestly dealing with documents.

Mr Bell sat in the dock for a brief hearing before the matter was adjourned for a date for declarations on December 11 in the Mount Gambier Magistrates Court.

Prosecutor Mark Norman, who appeared via video-link from Adelaide, indicated over “30 volumes of A4 material” will be provided to the defence counsel.

The documents will show the alleged theft of funds from the South East Education and Training Association and Limestone Coast Education and Training Association.

During the brief hearing, Mr Bell was also placed on bail to reside at his home in Mount Gambier and required to provide cash surety of $2000 to the court.

He is not allowed to leave the state of South Australia without the prior permission of Mount Gambier Police and will have to apply to the court to be able to travel overseas.

Mr Bell declined to make a comment to the media, however lawyer Bill DeGaris made a statement outside of court on behalf of his client.

“He will be defending all the charges, but we just need wait for court processes to take their course,” Mr DeGaris said.

PUBLIC INTEREST: Lawyer Bill Degaris fronts the media outside the Mount Gambier Courthouse. Pictures: LEON RADEMEYER

When questioned over the figures related to the charges, Mr DeGaris said his client was “absolutely” surprised and will be defending the charges.

While Mr Bell will have to reside at his primary residence in Mount Gambier, Ms Hancock said the defendant would not be there every night.

Magistrate Teresa Anderson adjusted the condition to state that Mr Bell would reside at the Mount Gambier address unless absent for work purposes.

Following an investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), Mr Bell was first charged with 19 major indictable offences and seven minor indictable offences on August 11.

For each count, Mr Bell faces 10 years imprisonment for a basic offence and 15 years imprisonment for an aggravated offence.

In a public statement released to The Border Watch on Thursday, Mr Bell expressed his disbelief regarding the very serious criminal charges he faced.

“These allegations make me feel sick to my stomach and I am in a state of disbelief and shock,” Mr Bell said in a statement.

“I will be vigorously defending these charges to preserve and protect my good name and reputation, and that of my family.”

If the matter reaches trial in the Mount Gambier District Court, it is not likely to be heard for months or potentially years with only three circuits sitting in the region every 12 months.

“It deeply saddens me that allegations have now been made some eight years later of any wrong doing,” Mr Bell said.

“I find it incredible that with only seven months until the next state election, allegations are made dating back eight years, causing me maximum political damage, and leaving me no time to defend myself.”

In light of the charges, Mr Bell resigned from the Liberal Party, however chose to remain the Member for Mount Gambier until next year’s election which caused a stir in the political landscape.

The Premier Jay Weatherill called for Mr Bell to resign from parliament given the seriousness of the allegations against him.

Mount Gambier lawyer Bill DeGaris speaks to media outside the Magistrates Court this morning declaring MP Troy Bell will fight the charges.

Posted by Border Watch Mount Gambier on Monday, 21 August 2017

 

BREAKING NEWS: Mount Gambier MP Troy Bell leaves the Magistrates Court minutes ago after facing multiple theft charges.

Posted by Border Watch Mount Gambier on Monday, 21 August 2017