Police divers search Norman Creek at Woolloogabba after the murder of Tony McGrath. Photo: Howie Bennett, Channel 9 via Twitter
Police divers search Norman Creek at Woolloogabba after the murder of Tony McGrath. Photo: Howie Bennett, Channel 9 via Twitter

Tony McGrath's accused killer faces life in jail

A GOLD Coast brothel madam will likely remain in jail for at least two years before facing trial for murder, having been refused bail over the shooting death of rugby league legend Tony McGrath.

Susan Ellen Stewart, 45, faces a mandatory life sentence if found guilty.

She is also facing charges of arson, attempted murder, sourcing and supplying illegal drugs and entering a dwelling with intent as part of a previous plan to allegedly drug and kill McGrath.

The court heard McGrath was shot in the head - allegedly by Stewart's driver and co-accused Tony John Taylor - at his Woolloongabba home with a shortened .22 on May 21 last year. His remains were found on May 23.

It heard almost eight months earlier McGrath survived a fire at his home that left him with severe burns on his feet and the loss of three toes.

The Crown alleges this too was an attempt by Stewart and Taylor to kill McGrath with Stewart apparently believing McGrath had changed his will to make her his sole beneficiary.

The court was told although McGrath, the president of Brisbane Rugby League Referees Association, had instructed changes be made to his will, they were not signed off before his death.

On the night of the fire, Stewart allegedly visited McGrath and shared wine with him, wine the Crown claims was delivered by Taylor and laced with the drug GHB.

The court heard Stewart told McGrath she was carrying his child months earlier, prompting McGrath to give her $75,000 in preparation for him becoming a father.

It was told that by January 2013, Stewart was no longer pregnant although there is some contention whether she ever was.

Justice Ann Lyons said despite Stewart's clean criminal record, the request for bail had to be rejected because the charges were serious enough that Stewart may attempt to escape or influence witnesses.

Stewart has been in custody for 77 days since her arrest in February.

Even if the court commits her to stand trial before the end of the year, the average wait time between committal and trial is about two years.

The case is due for mention on May 26.

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