Friday, October 2, 2020

Paul Cohrs would “prefer” murder trial be held in Mildura

A MAN charged with murdering his 82 year-old mother in her Red Cliffs home would "definitely prefer" the trial be held in Mildura given his "standing in the community".

Former Wentworth Deputy Mayor Paul Cohrs, 60, is charged with the shooting murder of 82 year-old Bette Cohrs in October 2018.

While no final decision has been made about the location of the trial, Mr Cohrs said during a bail application before the Supreme Court of Victoria on Monday that he wanted an opportunity to be judged by his peers.

Justice Paul Coghlan repeatedly told Cohrs via video link to get legal representation during his application for bail, which has been adjourned until September 21.

In the self-represented application, Cohrs outlined a number of arguments around why he should granted bail, saying he had significant health issues, including having suffered a heart attack, which put him at further risk in custody due to COVID-19.

He told Justice Paul Coghlan he could not adequately prepare for a trial while on remand, and said on multiple occasions he had been denied access to the Port Phillip Prison library.

Mr Coghlan said he accepted the disadvantages Cohrs had as an "unrepresented accused in custody" but it was also his choice to represent himself.

"You would be much better off being represented, we'll keep saying that to you," Mr Coghlan said.

"Cases as hard as this are terribly difficult to represent yourself… close to impossible."

Due to his "belief about court bias" Cohrs said he did not believe he could be represented by a Victorian defence counsel and his funds were currently frozen due to a civil matter.

Cohrs, who has been on remand for two years, also said given the current environment due to COVID-19 there would be a greater than usual delay in the case.

Other reasons he stated for being granted bail were that he was a carer for his wife and had suitable accommodation available.

Cohrs said he took "offence" to police saying he was an unacceptable risk with a statement indicating his company bought two underground water tanks and there could be firearms stored or buried there.

He said the claim was "clearly outrageous".

Homicide Squad Detective Senior Constable Damon Abby said the information had come from one of Cohrs' family members during the investigation but had not been looked into further.

In addressing his risk to witnesses and members of the community, Cohrs said waking up in hospital surrounded by his wife, children and grandchildren, had given him a "different outlook on life" stating there was "no way" he was going to jeopardise that.

"My main goal is to secure the financial viability of my family. That's my plea to the court," he said.

He also said the court could order he not be in possession of firearms or visit any gun ranges or similar.

Cohrs indicated he would be claiming a defence of mental impairment at the time of the offence.

The bail application was adjourned to allow prosecution to look into a number of issues, including his access to the prison's library.