The 60-year-old former NSW deputy mayor, accused of murdering his mother near Mildura almost two years ago, is representing himself in the Supreme Court and tells the judge that prison officers are blocking him from using the library.

A former deputy mayor accused of murdering his mother near Mildura almost two years ago has applied to be released on bail, arguing he cannot prepare a defence while in custody.
Key points:

  • The 60-year-old is charged with the 2018 murder of his mother at her home in Red Cliffs
  • Mr Cohrs has argued he should be granted bail so he can better mount a defence
  • Prosecutors oppose his bid to be released, saying the case against him is strong

Paul Cohrs, a councillor of the Wentworth Shire in rural New South Wales from 2012 to 2016, is accused of shooting dead his elderly mother, Bette Schulz, at her home in the north-west Victorian town of Red Cliffs on October 30, 2018.
The case was originally listed for trial at Mildura in July before the COVID-19 pandemic brought jury trials to a halt in Victoria.
Mr Cohrs, 60, made a self-represented bail application in the Supreme Court by video link this morning, telling Justice Paul Coghlan the memory of waking up in hospital surrounded by his family after the alleged crime “certainly gave me a different outlook on life”.
“There is no way I am going to jeopardise spending one more minute with my family,” Mr Cohrs told the court.
“My main goal now is to secure the financial viability of my family.”
Former Wentworth Shire deputy mayor Paul Cohrs intends to contest a murder charge.(Supplied)
Prosecutor Melissa Mahady opposed the application, saying the case against Mr Cohrs was very strong and that the defence material included admissions to the killing.
Mr Cohrs told the court he was considering fighting the murder charge on the grounds of mental impairment, automatism or “defence of another”.
He said, however, that “until I get all my relevant information, I feel I shouldn’t put a defence to the court just yet”.
Blocked from jail library, court told
Mr Cohrs told Justice Coghlan that staff at Port Phillip Prison had made it difficult for him to access legal material, including by blocking him from using the prison library.
The court heard Mr Cohrs was unwilling to hire any law firm from Victoria to represent him and remained unable to engage his chosen South Australian lawyers because his assets were frozen due to ongoing civil litigation.
He argued he should be released to fight the civil case so he could free up funds to defend himself against the murder charge.
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Mr Cohrs also submitted that he was of good character and that he had experienced significant health issues, including a heart attack, while in custody that made him more susceptible to COVID-19.
The court heard NSW Police also had a warrant for Mr Cohrs’ arrest.
“Why wouldn’t it be that you’d just be arrested by the NSW authorities [if released]?” Justice Coghlan asked.
The judge told Mr Cohrs that he would seek more information about his ability to access legal material from jail, but advised him he “would be better off being represented and we will all keep saying this to you”.
Justice Coghlan reserved his decision until next Monday.