THE man who raped and
murdered Newcastle schoolgirl Leigh Leigh was freed today after his
second stint in prison.
Matthew Webster, 33,
was initially paroled in June last year after serving 14 years of a 20-year
sentence for 14-year-old Leigh's murder after a party at Newcastle's
North Stockton Surf Club in 1989.
But while on parole in
October last year he was charged over an assault and his parole was
He was sent back to
prison while the assault prosecution progressed, but the charges were
dismissed in April this year because of a lack of evidence.
Today, Webster walked
free from Sydney's Silverwater Jail but he will remain on parole until
March, 29, 2010.
His new release is on
the condition he does not live in the Stockton or Newcastle area, nor is
he to visit either area without the permission of his parole officer.
Webster made no comment
as he was driven past an assembled media throng following his release
just after 10am (AEST).
A Corrective Services
spokesman said Webster would live in private accommodation in Sydney's
west in the short term.
Killer Sees Assault Charges Dismissed
ASSAULT charges against
the killer of Newcastle schoolgirl Leigh Leigh were dismissed today
after a magistrate said the evidence against him was "lacking".
Matthew Webster, 33,
had been charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm, common
assault and maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm following an
alleged attack on Woodberry man Craig Drew last October.
Webster was on parole
at the time, having served 14 years of a 20-year jail sentence for
was sexually assaulted and murdered at a party at the North Stockton
Surf Club in 1989.
Webster's parole was
revoked last November and the New South Wales Parole Board ruled in
January Webster would remain behind bars pending the outcome of the
assault charges against him.
Webster, of Seven Hills,
could now be released from custody after the three charges were
dismissed in Maitland Local Court today.
Police had alleged
Webster was involved in a fight with Mr Drew, the former partner of
Webster's lover Belinda Lowe.
Mr Drew suffered a
broken jaw and cracked ribs as a result of the alleged altercation.
Webster had pleaded not
guilty to the charges and Magistrate Stephen Jackson today dismissed
"The evidence is
lacking," Magistrate Jackson said.
"I dismiss all the
Mr Drew had told police
Webster punched him twice in the head and kicked him in the stomach in
the kitchen of the house he continued to share with Lowe.
He also alleged Webster
pulled a knife during the fight.
Paul Rosser, QC, said Mr Drew's evidence was unreliable.
He said Webster punched
Mr Drew "five to six times" to the head and body, but denied kicking him
and rejected the allegation of the knife.
"Drew himself says he
instigated the fight," Mr Rosser said.
But Police Prosecutor
Daniel Maher urged the court to consider the circumstances leading up to
the physical altercation.
He said Webster became
aware there was "something going on" between Mr Drew and a 17-year-old
girl known to Webster, and came to Woodberry to "sort it out".
"The key in this case
is the defendant goes up there to sort out Craig Drew for sending
inappropriate messages to (the girl)," Mr Maher said.
"I say the presence of
Webster in the circumstances of what is effectively a love triangle is
going to cause friction, it's going to cause conflict."
Mr Rosser said he would
now instigate proceedings with the NSW Parole Board to release Webster
Comment was being
sought from the board.
Freed Killer Accused
November 18, 2004
MATTHEW Webster, who
killed Newcastle girl Leigh Leigh in 1989, was granted bail on assault
charges five months after being released from jail, the NSW Parliament
was told yesterday.
The Opposition's Andrew
Humpherson said Webster appeared in court on Tuesday charged with common
assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. He said there should
have been an immediate presumption against bail in Webster's case.
Leigh Leigh Killer
Tamara McLean - Herald Sun
November 17, 2004
THE killer of Newcastle
girl Leigh Leigh was granted bail on assault charges only five months
after being released from jail, New South Wales parliament was told
Matthew Webster was 18
years old when he was jailed for the sexual assault and. murder of the
14-year-old after a birthday party at the North Stockton Surf Club, near
Newcastle, on Novembers, 1989.
She had been bludgeoned
to death with a lump of concrete. Webster was released on parole in June
after 14 years in jail.
His release came six
years shy of his full 20-year sentence and was granted on the grounds he
was unlikely to re-offend.
He said the man was the
partner of a woman Webster befriended while in Parklea prison.
Mr Humpherson today said there should have been an immediate presumption
against bail in Webster's case.
"What the opposition
wants to know is why - when the government promised a presumption
against bail for violent repeat offenders - Webster is back on the
streets this afternoon?" Mr Humpherson said.
"It is a dangerous game
the Carr Government is playing with public safety when it allows bail
for the likes of Matthew Webster," he said.
Premier Bob Carr said
Webster had been granted strict, conditional bail.
"I'm advised that the
accused, who handed himself into police, was granted strict, conditional
bail," Mr Carr told parliament.
He said there had been
a "markedly higher" number of cases where bail has been refused since
new bail legislation was introduced.
But the new laws had,
in this case, removed the presumption in favour of bail being granted to
the accused, Mr Carr said.
"Factors that may have
been persuasive in this case would include the strength of the case
against the accused," he said.
"As this matter is
still before the courts, it would not be appropriate to go into further
NSW Justice Minister
John Hatzistergos had supported Webster's release in June, saying the
prisoner had fulfilled all the requirements to make him eligible for
parole, and would live in a halfway house.
Any breach would result
in Webster being sent back to jail. Mr Hatzistergos said in June.
"1 wish him well, but his activities will be closely monitored and he
will be brought to account if the need arises," he was quoted as saying
at the time.
November 17, 2004
pictures sent to a 17-year-old girl's mobile phone led to an alleged
attack on a Woodberry man, a court heard yesterday.
Matthew Grant Webster
faced Maitland Local Court charged with assault occasioning actual
bodily harm and common assault after voluntarily handing himself in to
Maitland Police yesterday morning.
Mr Webster, 33, of
Seven Hills, Sydney pleaded not guilty to the charges that relate to an
incident in Woodberry on October 11.
Churches, for Mr Webster, said the allegations would be "strenuously
denied' and claimed his client had acted in self defence.
He said Mr Webster had
been "set up" by the alleged victim, pointing to a message he received
on his mobile phone that read "gotcha big boy".
Mr Churches said the
message had been sent two weeks after the incident by the alleged victim.
"This (message) is a
very strong attack on the credibility of the alleged victim in this
matter," he said.
The court heard Mr
Webster went to the Woodberry home after being told by a childhood
friend, who was also the ex-wife of the alleged victim, that her former
husband had sent photos "of a disgusting nature" to the mobile phone of
a 17-year-old girl.
It was alleged these
photos were of the victim's penis.
"She (the ex-wife) told
him to come to the house to get (the 17-year-old) out of there," Mr
"The only reason he was
in Woodberry that day was in an attempt to protect the 17-year- old girl."
He said the girl had
already left the home when Mr Webster arrived and claimed his client was
attacked by the victim and acted in self defence as a result.
Police prosecutor Chris
Shields opposed the defence's request for bail, claiming the prosecution
had a strong case based on statements provided by the alleged victim and
a second person and strong medical evidence consistent with the
"The charge is a
serious charge and these injuries are serious injuries," Mr Shields said.
Jackson adjourned the matter to December 13. Mr Webster was granted bail
on the condition he reside at his Seven Hills address, report daily to
Blacktown Police Station, stay away from Woodberry and refrain from
contacting the alleged victim.
A $5000 cash bond,
which was posted by his mother, and an agreement to forfeit an
additional $5000 for any breach of the bail conditions were also
14-year-old Leigh Leigh, the victim.