Taxi driver on bail but out of Bendigo CBD

A BENDIGO taxi driver charged with raping three women has been granted bail but ordered to stay out of Bendigo.

Robert McNeil Byrnes, 44, was bailed in court yesterday and issued with a ban from entering a 70 kilometre radius of the Bendigo CBD.

The court heard Byrnes had been offered employment in Echuca and would move to the town with his wife.

Under strict bail conditions Byrnes was ordered to report daily to Echuca police and put under a curfew where he cannot leave his home between the hours of 9pm and 6am without his wife’s company.

Byrnes was arrested in October last year and has been charged with a series of sex offences including four counts of rape.

Other charges against Byrnes include unlawful assault and false imprisonment.

Police allege the offences were committed in March, April and October last year, and said two of the alleged victims were passengers in Byrnes’ taxi.

Byrnes’ application for bail had been denied multiple times, but was approved in the Bendigo Magistrates Court yesterday subject to a number of conditions.

Magistrate Jennifer Tregent said Byrnes still posed a risk of fleeing and any passport or travel documents he had were ordered to be destroyed.

Ms Tregent said witnesses and victims were still living in fear and were scared he would try to contact them again.

An Echuca plasterer who did not want his name used told the Bendigo Advertiser he had offered Byrnes a position as a labourer and was confident he would be a productive employee.

The employer said he didn’t believe the court charges would affect his work.

Under bail restrictions, Byrnes is only permitted to enter Bendigo for legal proceedings and medical appointments.

He will face a committal mention in Bendigo on February 6.

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