Murder suspect loses re-election bid in Australia

by katrinswan65

Ryan Bayldon-LumsdenImage source, BBC News

Image caption,

Councillor Ryan Bayldon-Lumsden intends to plead not guilty to murder, his lawyers told a pre-trial hearing

By Simon Atkinson in Brisbane and Hannah Ritchie in Sydney

BBC News

An Australian politician accused of murdering his stepfather has failed in his attempt to be re-elected as a city councillor, officials say.

Ryan Bayldon-Lumsden faced heavy criticism for standing given the serious criminal charge against him.

Ahead of the vote, he had defiantly told the BBC that it was for the public to decide if he served again.

Despite his unusual situation he was still the first choice for almost 22% of voters, the official count shows.

But he only came third in a ballot for the City of Gold Coast council seat that he had won convincingly four years earlier.

The 31-year-old is charged with allegedly killing his stepfather, Robert Lumsden, at the family’s home in August last year.

Further details about the proceedings can’t be reported for legal reasons, but his lawyers have indicated at a pre-trial hearing that he will plead not guilty.

He is believed to be the only Australian in recent history to have been fighting a political battle and a murder charge simultaneously.

The Electoral Commission of Queensland on Tuesday said Joe Wilkinson had been elected.

Mr Bayldon-Lumsden was able to able to campaign in person ahead of the election because he is on bail – albeit while wearing a GPS electronic ankle bracelet.

After being charged, Mr Bayldon-Lumsden was suspended from the council, while still receiving his full salary of A$160,000 (£82,700; $105,000) a year.

This meant that almost 50,000 people in his area have not had a voice on the local council.

“It’s really important that we have a councillor who can represent the community at council – when he was knocked out, that was already a win,” runner-up Jenna Schroeder told the BBC on Tuesday.

Mr Bayldon-Lumsden previously told the BBC he had no regrets about taking part in the election, despite the decision being labelled as “bizarre”, “selfish” and “entitled”.

“I believe democracy is the most important thing, and voters always get it right,” he said.

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