A former soldier accused of running a “sex cult” in regional NSW where he lived with six polyamorous partners will have to wait 24 hours to find out if he will be released from prison.
James-Robert Davis appeared in the NSW Supreme Court on Wednesday for his third application for bail in a matter of weeks after he was charged with 40 serious offences related to the alleged cult near Armidale in northern NSW.
He has been in custody for more than 20 months after he was arrested in March 2021.
The ex-Australian Defence Force soldier was originally facing three charges over allegedly keeping a woman in sexual servitude, but the charges were withdrawn six months later.
Justice Mark Ierace was told Mr Davis had been granted bail in the District Court on November 1, but was refused over a different set of matters in the Local Court the same week.
The bail-refused charges were brought to the Supreme Court on Wednesday and are related to the allegations of four women.
They include multiple counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, intentionally distributing an intimate image without consent and intimidation.
Defence lawyer Abigail Bannister told the court many of the allegations occurred in the “context of a highly sexualised relationship in the BDSM and kink community”.
“Where there are public and private events and sexual events, glorification of sexual behaviour effectively staged and real,” Ms Bannister said.
Ms Bannister told the court many of the alleged offences occurred in the “context of an obedient BDSM relationship”.
As was told to both the Local and District Court, Ms Bannister said her client had been unable to view the extensive brief of evidence due to “ongoing access issues”.
The court was told a documentarian followed Mr Davis around and filmed his life at the property with his permission, and defence counsel were looking to use the videos as evidence in his Local Court hearings in February.
“The applicant is unable to properly and fairly prepare his defence for both hearings in February,” Ms Bannister said.
The court was previously told he was under protective custody because of his former role as a prison guard, and he had only been able to access the prison computer for three to four hours a week.
Mr Davis had been unable to provide detailed instructions to his lawyers or properly assess the “vast” evidence in order to defend his case, the court was told.
Justice Ierace said he did not “understand the relevance” of Mr Davis needing to view 250 hours of footage” to defend himself against the “quite specific charges of assault”.
“Excluding two charges, a large number of them are in the context of a BDSM relationship,” Ms Bannister said.
Justice Ierace reserved his judgment on the bail application to Thursday.
During the successful District Court application earlier this month, the court was told the nature of the case against Mr Davis had “completely changed” since his arrest following allegations from additional alleged victims.
The former prison guard is facing 26 charges before the District Court, including sexual intercourse without consent and torturing an animal.
He is also charged with illegally possessing prohibited firearms and ammunition. He is due to face trial in April.
The court previously heard that if granted bail, Mr Davis would submit to house arrest and wear an ankle monitor that would notify a corrections officer of a breach in 20 seconds.
He would also agree not to contact any complainants or witnesses in the case.
During both the District and Local Court bail hearings, the Crown prosecutor argued Mr Davis would be likely to flee due to the “serious nature of the charges” and the likelihood of a custodial sentence if he was found guilty.
Mr Davis will return to court on Thursday.