The man charged over the death of German backpacker Simone Strobel on the NSW north coast is alleged to have suffocated her, but his lawyer has told a Sydney court the case against him isn’t supported by any evidence.
- Tobias Moran is facing a bail hearing at Sydney’s Downing Center Local Court
- His barrister, Tim Game SC, says the police case is “non-existent”
- Mr Game says allegations Ms Strobel was suffocated is “a theory”
Tobias Moran, 42, was arrested last week and extradited from Western Australia to Sydney, charged with murder and attempting to pervert the course of justice.
The body of kindergarten teacher Ms Strobel, 25, was found concealed under palm fronds in Lismore in February 2005, six days after she was reported missing.
Mr Moran applied for bail in Sydney’s Downing Center Local Court today.
“To describe the case as weak is to give it some credence,” his barrister Tim Game SC told the magistrate.
“The case is actually non-existent.”
In 2007, an inquiry found there was insufficient evidence to refer the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
“Nothing has changed… except for the way in which police are prepared to characterize this case and then do everything they can to keep him in custody,” Mr Game said.
He said police had compiled a statement of alleged facts which included unsourced material and assertions which were not supported by any direct or indirect evidence.
That included that Ms Strobel’s cause of death was suffocation, which the barrister described as “a theory”.
Mr Game said two autopsies had not come to any conclusion about the cause of death.
He told Magistrate Margaret Quinn that Mr Moran had voluntarily provided DNA more than once in recent times, had known he was a suspect since 2007, and had a family in Perth which is “entirely dependent” on his income.
It was “outrageous” to suggest that relatives may somehow facilitate an escape from the country, Mr Game said.
Last week, NSW Police revealed they were speaking with German authorities about warrants for two other people.
Superintendent Scott Tanner said the two had been persons of interest from the beginning and were in the country at the same time as Ms Strobel.
He said Mr Moran relocated to WA some time ago and had settled into life “quite comfortably”.
Ms Strobel’s family was “still very distressed”, police said, and had spent years wondering what happened to her.
Prosecutor Kim Gourlie described the matter as “a viable circumstantial case”.
He highlighted the findings of the inquest that Ms Strobel’s death was the result of “the action of one or more persons and it was not due to a natural cause or innocent event”, along with evidence from an autopsy of bruising.
“It’s the Crown’s submission that inferences are available in relation to her death not being from natural causes,” Mr Gourlie said.
Mr Gourlie said the accused had “lied” about “crucial events”, including the nature of their relationship and use of alcohol.
The court also heard that since 2007, additional statements have been obtained by police from people in Germany about the nature of the relationship between the accused and Ms Strobel.
Mr Gourlie said a “powerful incentive” for the accused to flee was the nature and seriousness of the charge, which would likely carry a substantial custodial sentence if he is convicted.
Mr Moran appeared via video link, wearing a face mask and blue plastic gown over his clothing.
The bail hearing continues.