Man, 35, now on murder charge

A MAN accused of murdering his boss did not mean for him to die, Coffs Harbour Local Court heard yesterday.

Coffs Harbour detectives yesterday charged Grant Kelly Connelly, 35, of Woolgoolga, with the murder of Andrew William Walker, 41, of Moonee Beach.

They had previously charged Connelly with maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm following an incident at a work Christmas party at Mr Walker's home at 12.35am on Sunday. Mr Walker died in hospital the next day.

"This is a tragic incident. It was never my client's intention for it to result in the loss of life . . ." Connelly's solicitor, Todd Ritchie, told the court.

In applying for bail, Mr Ritchie said exceptional circumstances existed, namely that there was a strong defence case and Connelly 'poses no risk whatsoever' to the community.

He said Connelly arrived at the party at 2.30pm on Saturday where a number of people were present, and that his client consumed alcohol during the party.

"The facts indicate words were exchanged (during the incident) but as to what happened, there is a difference in opinion," Mr Ritchie said.

"There is some suggestion that the victim pushed the accused at some stage in the head or neck area.

"The accused says the victim punched him in the face. As a result of the accused being punched by the victim, the accused punched the victim back and the victim fell to the ground.

"The victim was rolling over on his side. The accused thought he was getting up and was scared he would hit him again, and punched him three times."

Mr Ritchie said Connelly had moved to Woolgoolga from Armidale two-and-a-half years ago, that he has been married for 11 years and has three children aged eight, 11 and 12.

His employment had been terminated following the incident, but he had since been offered other work.

"This offence was not premeditated. It was not a planned attack on his employer. There was no weapon," Mr Ritchie said.

In granting bail, registrar Aldo Loprete said Connelly must report to Woolgoolga police daily, that he is to live at his Woolgoolga residence and that he is not to contact or approach any witnesses, expect for his wife and children.

The matter was adjourned to February 7.

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