FORMER Casino grazier Jeffrey Ryan’s sister-in-law and mother-in-law have been arrested and charged with plotting and arranging his murder.
In a staggering turn of events, officers from Strike Force Chandler have executed five warrants across the State, also re-arresting Mr Ryan’s estranged wife Helen and two others from Cessnock.
In a complex conspiracy, police will allege the three women conspired to murder Mr Ryan, contracting Cessnock pensioner-turned-professional hit man, Kenneth Brooks, 45, to travel to Tamworth in October and carry out the shotgun killing.
Mr Ryan was gunned down and killed at his Tamworth property last October.
Helen Ryan’s sister, Ganene Gaye Coulter, 41 from Tyndale, near MacLean, was the go-to girl who sourced the hit man on behalf of Mrs Ryan, who then travelled to Cessnock to make the deal.
Brooks and his de facto wife, Joeleen Farrell, 28, were arrested at their Cessnock home on Wednesday, immediately after Mrs Ryan personally delivered the final instalment of $15,000 for her husband’s execution-style murder.
Police will allege Mrs Ryan had delivered a down payment of $15,000 last year.
The blood-money payment sprang a sophisticated trap set by Strike Force Chandler detectives who pounced on the Cessnock couple before executing warrants for the three other women in Grafton and Tamworth.
Brooks and Farrell appeared in Maitland Local Court on Thursday.
He was charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder and was remanded in custody; she was charged with being an accessory and allowed bail.
Mrs Ryan and her mother, Coralie Coulter, 70, were arrested and charged in Tamworth on Thursday and refused bail.
Mrs Ryan has been additionally charged with solicit to murder. She is already charged with murder; conspiracy to murder; acting to pervert the course of justice; and concealing a serious offence.
The elderly Mrs Coulter was charged with being an accessory before and after the fact, conspiracy to murder and solicit to murder.
Her daughter, Ganene, who faced court in Grafton yesterday, was charged with being an accessory before and after the fact, conspiracy to murder and possessing a prohibited drug. She was refused bail.
Casino detectives briefed the Ryan family in Casino yesterday.
Speaking out for the first time since the latest arrests, Mr Ryan’s mother Marie said the family was still coming to terms with the developments.
“We’re coping,” she said.
“It’s a little closure, but there’s so much more to come. It’s all too hard to take (in) really.”
Her son-in-law Peter Edwards was relieved, though reserved, and said the family was pleased with the news, but had been advised not to comment further while the investigation proceeded.
Detective Sergeant John Sommers, from Strike Force Chandler, said the arrests were a long time coming, but the investigation still had ‘some way to go’.
“We’re extremely happy with the outcome and feel a lot of relief for the family,” he said.
Police have not ruled out more arrests.
Mrs Ryan was not charged with breaking her bail conditions.
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