THE dilapidated house where chef Ben Batterham was living before he was charged with burglar Ricky Slater’s alleged murder has undergone a slick renovation.
The house and 34-year-old Batterham became the focus of national headlines after Mr Slater allegedly broke in on Easter Saturday last year and then died following a scuffle after Batterham gave chase.
Police charged Batterham with Mr Slater’s murder, and a judge ordered he leave the house and live elsewhere while awaiting a committal hearing to see if he will face a murder trial.
Recognisable a year ago for its peeling weatherboards and rundown facade, the house now has a smart paint job and is being rented out for $520 a week.
Batterham was released on bail and returned to his chef’s job at the exclusive Newcastle Club while ordered to live elsewhere with his partner and daughter.
Police took photographs of Batterham after the incident which allegedly show bite marks inflicted during the confrontation.
Mr Slater, who had a criminal record for rape, assault, drug possession and break and enter offences, died on Easter Sunday last year after being taken off life support.
Batterham had been drinking beer in his kitchen with a friend to celebrate his forthcoming birthday in the early hours of March 26 last year when Mr Slater allegedly entered the house.
Police documents say that Mr Slater was carrying three knives, ecstasy tablets and three new iPhones.
They allege that Mr Slater had taken a handbag belonging to Batterham’s partner from their seven-month-old daughter’s room before he was spotted and fled the house.
Batterham chased Mr Slater along several streets before allegedly tackling him to the ground.
After Mr Slater died in hospital, Batterham was charged with murder and was placed on remand in Cessnock jail.
At his bail hearing in Newcastle court in May last year, Batterham’s barrister Winston Terracini SC argued his client had been defending his house against a home invasion by an ice addict.
Prosecutor John Sfinas described Batterham’s pursuit of Mr Slater as aggressive.
But Magistrate John Stone said he did “not agree with the Crown submission that this is a strong case” for murder and granted Batterham bail with a $200,000 surety on his parents’ home and conditions that he not drink alcohol or take drugs.
Batterham’s parents, who lived next door, bought the house for $395,000 in the Newcastle suburb of Hamilton for their son’s young family in October 2015.
Photographs of the newly remodelled home show a fresh white kitchen and bathroom, gleaming wooden floors and a neatly mown back yard.
A committal hearing for Ben Batterham on the charge of alleged murder is expected to be held this year.