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Property owner charged with murder

Date

Stephanie Anderson, Louis Andrews and Natasha Rudra

The body was removed from the home this morning.

The body was removed from the home this morning. Photo: Jay Cronan

A wealthy Canberra property owner is in custody accused of the stabbing murder of his elderly neighbour yesterday afternoon.

Luigi Costa has pleaded not guilty to murdering 89-year-old Terrence John Freebody at the former’s Mugga Way home.

Costa, 69, made a bid for bail in the ACT Magistrates Court this afternoon before Magistrate Peter Dingwall.

Luigi Costa.

Luigi Costa.

Police were called to the house by a man identifying himself as Costa, according to a police statement of facts.

It is alleged the caller requested police assistance, saying he’d been attacked and his assailant was still in the house.

Detective Senior Constable Sarah Casey told the court the phone operator could hear moaning in the background.

Terry Freebody.

Terry Freebody.

The operator allegedly pressed the caller for more details but the man hung up.

Police called back and spoke to the same person, the court heard.

The officers who arrived at the scene found Mr Freebody’s body in the dining room.

It’s alleged they found Costa in the bathroom with bloodied hands and a knife in the basin.

The court heard preliminary forensic examinations suggested Mr Freebody had been stabbed with a knife.

The police informant said Costa told police, “I know you’re only doing your job, but when I get out I’ll kill you and your boss”.

The court also heard the accused man later returned an alcohol reading of .157.

Due to the serious nature of the charge Costa’s legal team had to satisfy the court there were special and exceptional circumstances justifying their client’s release on bail.

Lawyer Shane Gill it was highly unusual a man of Costa’s age would appear before a court on any charge, “let alone murder”.

He said the man’s age, combined with his extensive ties to the community, made it a special case.

The court heard the man had three properties worth millions – in Queanbeyan, Fyshwick and Mugga Way – which he would put up as surety.

And Mr Gill said two men who had known Costa for years also would provide surety, and one offered to put a roof over his head.

But Mr Dingwall adjourned the bail application so more information about the man’s mental state could be put before the court.

Constable Casey said inquiries suggested Costa wasn’t known to mental health authorities in the ACT or Queanbeyan.

The magistrate said he was concerned, however, because of the nature of the attack and the lack of apparent motive.

The matter is due back in court in August.

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