NSW bail laws have 'fatal consequences'

·3-min read

The death of Indigenous man Stanley Russell - shot and killed by police in western Sydney - is a fatal consequence of the state's failing bail laws.

That's what NSW Labor says, as the government faces criticism over what it admits are a "spate of contentious bail decisions".

Mr Russell was killed on Tuesday when officers visited a home in Seven Hills to arrest the 45-year-old.

Police say he approached them armed with an axe and knife before "a physical confrontation ensued" and he was shot.

Media reports indicate Mr Russell was out on bail which resulted in him missing his court attendance, when then led to the warrant for his arrest.

He is the second person in his family to die in custody, with his brother Eddie Russell found dead in Long Bay Jail in 1999.

Both were sexually abused a children, their mother told media, before reportedly developing extensive criminal histories.

A NSW Police spokesperson told AAP they could not confirm details of Mr Russell's arrest as it has been declared a critical incident and is being investigated.

NSW Labor spokesman Walt Secord said Mr Russell's death was clearly a "tragedy on so many levels".

It proves the state's "lax" bail laws are a "fiasco", he said.

"Yesterday, we saw that they can have fatal consequences for the offenders, but also for frontline police officers put into impossible situations," he said.

"It is tragic for the man involved, his family and for the police officers responding.

"It is time to reform and tighten bail laws in NSW. Bail should not be granted to people charged with commercial drug trafficking, sex and firearm offences."

It comes as the Police Minister David Elliott also took aim at recent bail decisions, criticising a magistrate who granted bail to a Sydney drug lord who then lead police on a 16-day fugitive hunt.

Mostafa Baluch was on Wednesday morning found hiding in a grey Mercedes concealed inside a container, on a truck trying to cross the NSW border into Queensland.

Baluch, facing a string of drug offences related to a 900kg cocaine shipment into Australia worth $270 million, was released from custody under strict conditions but cut off his ankle monitoring bracelet just days afterwards.

"I'm not just angry from from a policing point of view - because I've got to speak on behalf of 70,000 police officers that spend all day, every day putting briefs to court to get bad people off the streets - but I think the community expectation of our judicial system is that bail is a privilege," Mr Elliott told reporters.

"It was embarrassing that suburban magistrate was responsible (for the debacle).

"(We have) to make sure that the judiciary reflects the the public's sentiments, and that's clearly not happened on one or two occasions in recent times."

Mr Elliott said he is having "full and frank discussions" with Attorney General Mark Speakman about the effectiveness of bail laws.

A review of the bail act is also underway.

But Mr Speakman on Wednesday rejected the suggestion there are systemic issues with the bail system.

"Magistrates are human, they will make mistakes."

"We have to make sure that a few bad headlines do not lead to changes that are not justified."

The bail act monitoring group - which includes prosecutors, lawyers and police - has been asked to review the "recent spate of contentious bail decisions", he said.

"We have the toughest bail laws in the country here in NSW (but) if there is a need to refine those laws, I'm certainly open to looking at that."

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