Accused: Paul Darren Mulvihill. Photo: NSW Police Media Unit
A former rugby player accused of stabbing his ex-girlfriend to death has been granted bail for the third time despite breaching his bail conditions on two previous occasions, and despite new evidence that prosecutors say undermines his claim that he acted in self-defence.
"Thank you for the opportunity, your honour," Paul Darren Mulvihill declared as he was granted bail in the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday.
The 44-year-old, currently a senior manager at pharmaceutical company, is awaiting trial for the murder of Rachelle Yeo, 31, who was found with multiple stab wounds at her first-floor unit on Sydney's northern beaches on July 16 last year.
Found dead at a Curl Curl apartment: Rachelle Yeo.
Police forced their way into the Curl Curl property following reports from neighbours of a "loud argument", to find Ms Yeo suffering from two critical stab wounds to the chest. Paramedics who arrived soon after were unable to save her.
Mr Mulvihill, 45, who was arrested the next day by Queensland police at Brisbane Airport, claims that when he visited his former lover at her home she attacked him with a knife, and she was stabbed during the ensuing struggle.
Mr Mulvihill has been granted bail on two previous occasions, with his lawyers successfully arguing that his case involved "exceptional circumstances". But he was returned to custody both times after breaching his bail conditions.
Rachelle Yeo: her former lover has been bailed.
The court heard on Wednesday that the most recent breach occurred in June, when Mr Mulvihill had attempted to contact a witness in the case, his former friend Guy Ellis.
Mr Mulvihill had been travelling on a ticket bought under Mr Ellis' name and with his credit card when he was arrested at the airport last year.
"The accused sent an email to a third party, intending its content to be conveyed to Mr Ellis, a Crown witness," Justice Derek Price said in handing down the reasons for his decision.
Justice Price said that the 44-year-old had also breached the condition requiring him to remain in his house between 5.45pm and 5.45am.
While his honour rejected the accused's claim to have been confused about the detail of his bail conditions, he said that neither of the breaches had been carried out for "nefarious reasons".
He accepted Mr Mulvihill's claim that being in custody would prevent him from acting in another ongoing civil case in which he had a personal stake, and found that he was not a flight risk and did not pose a risk to the community.
The judge also rejected the claim by the Crown that new forensic evidence in the form of a post-mortem examination report by eminent pathologist Professor Johan Duflou elevated the strength of the case against Mr Mulvihill from "moderate" to "overwhelming".
The court heard that Professor Duflou examined Ms Yeo's body and found that the two stab wounds, which penetrated her heart, lungs and larynx, were "typical of stab wounds where the deceased is trying to fend off an assault".
Professor Duflou said that while he could not completely rule out the possibility that the injuries occurred at Ms Yeo's own hand during the struggle, he had not "seen injuries like this that were self-inflicted in 30 years of practice".
The court heard that this pathology report came on top of other evidence allegedly suggesting the former rugby player's guilt, including witnesses who allegedly said Ms Yeo had told them he was "stalking her" and had threatened to "destroy" her.
Nevertheless, Justice Price found that the accused had demonstrated the necessary "exceptional circumstances" to warrant being released on bail.
Family members and friends have agreed to a $755,000 bail surety, including a $100,000 deposit that they must pay before he is released.
He must adhere to a series of stringent conditions, including being under virtual home detention except for reporting daily to Kogarah police station.
Mr Mulvihill played for Gordon and Manly in the Sydney rugby competition in the early 1990s, and was at one point selected for the Wallabies team.*
* Correction: An earlier version of this story said Mr Mulvihill was close to being selected.