Why Obeid will spend Christmas in jail

Disgraced former NSW MP Eddie Obeid and his two co-conspirators will stay behind bars over Christmas after their bail bids were rejected despite a judge admitting the grounds for appealing their convictions were “arguable”.

Obeid, 78, his son Moses Obeid, 52, and his former ministerial colleague Ian Macdonald, 72, had applied for bail in the NSW Supreme Court pending an appeal against their convictions.

But on Friday, Justice Helen Wilson dismissed each of the applications.

“That the appeals have, or may have, substance to them is not of itself sufficient to establish ‘special or exceptional circumstances’ such as to militate in favour of a grant of bail,” she said.

Eddie Obeid is facing years in prison.

Eddie Obeid is facing years in prison.

After a complex 77-day judge-alone trial, Justice Elizabeth Fullerton found the trio guilty of conspiring to commit misconduct in public office.

Macdonald, who was the mineral resources minister at the time of the offending, was found to have provided confidential information to the Obeids over a coal exploration licence that pocketed the family $30m.

Obeid was sentenced in October to a minimum of three years and 10 months in prison, while his son was jailed for at least three years and Macdonald for at least five years and three months.

The court was told the appeal outcome might not be determined until the end of next year or early 2023.

“(But) it cannot be said that a substantial portion of the sentence imposed on any of the applicants will have expired before his appeal is determined,” Justice Wilson said.

Ian Macdonald is appealing his conviction. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Flavio Brancaleone

Ian Macdonald is appealing his conviction. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Flavio Brancaleone

She concluded that the total features relied upon by the trio – which also included health concerns, Covid-19 issues and limited access to legal visits – did not amount to exceptional circumstances.

“None of the matters relied upon are particularly unusual, or uncommon, or striking, or compelling,” she said.

“Even taking them together they cannot be so regarded.

“Whilst each applicant has an arguable case on appeal, it cannot be known if the appeal will be successful or not.

“The applicants have each been found guilty and sentenced by a court, and they do not enjoy the presumption of innocence or have a right to liberty.

“To stay an order of imprisonment by granting bail would be a serious interference in the administration of criminal justice that cannot be justified in the absence of special or exceptional circumstances.”

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