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Afternoon of drinks before Red Hill death, court told

A man charged with the murder of his neighbour had been drinking with the victim and his wife in the hours before the killing, police say.

A police statement of facts tendered on Monday at Luigi Costa's committal on a charge of murder reveals the alleged lead-up to the July killing.

Costa has been committed to stand trial in the ACT Supreme Court over the stabbing death of Terrence Freebody, his 89-year-old Red Hill neighbour. The accused has pleaded not guilty, and the ACT Magistrates Court has heard the 69-year-old suffers from an Alzheimer's-type dementia.

Costa and the Freebodys lived across from each other in the suburb's well-to-do Mugga Way.

At the time of his death, Mr Freebody was already in poor health, having battled bowel cancer, lost much of his hearing and undergone operations on both knees.

The elderly man ''had a very slow gait, struggled to get out of chairs and regularly fell over'', according to the police document.


Police allege that on the afternoon of Sunday, July 22, Costa invited his neighbours over for drinks and a tour of his house.

According to the statement of facts, Costa would produce four bottles of wine over the next few hours. Police allege that three of the four bottles were completely consumed; the Freebodys had five glasses between them and Costa the rest.

Mrs Freebody excused herself about 5pm, allegedly offended by Costa's foul language.

Four minutes later Costa had called triple-0 reporting he had been attacked in his own home.

When police arrived at 5.25pm Mr Freebody was dead on the dining room floor and Costa was on the toilet in the bathroom, allegedly with a bloodied knife in a nearby sink.

Costa's bail application has sprawled out over four months, with his legal team needing to prove exceptional circumstances to justify his release.

Barrister John Purnell, SC, argued his client's incarceration made it impossible for the defence to properly prepare its case.

The defence wants a report from forensic psychiatrist Stephen Allnut canvassing Costa's mental state at the time of the alleged offence.

A psychiatrist who has seen Costa in custody recommended he be bailed to Calvary Hospital's Hyson Green unit. But he conceded his concern was more about Costa's prospects of rejoining the community than planning a legal defence.

Mr Purnell argued his client's age, lack of a criminal history and health justified granting bail.

But prosecutor Anthony Williamson opposed the man's release, saying there were no exceptional circumstances.

''I'll start by saying that in my respectful submission the issue of the accused going to Hyson Green is a bit of a red herring,'' he said.

The prosecutor added there was no evidence Costa could not get the necessary assessments to help prepare his case while behind bars.

''Although it's always going to be less than ideal for a defence team to have their client in custody, it doesn't make it impossible,'' Mr Williamson said.

Magistrate Peter Dingwall said he wasn't satisfied the defence team had overcome the presumption against bail, and remanded Costa in custody.

Costa is due to face the Supreme Court for the first time next month.