A NEW trial date has been set for the Walcha woman charged with killing her de-facto partner as part of an elaborate plan to inherit his farm.
Natasha Beth Darcy will now face a NSW Supreme Court murder trial in 2021 - more than three years after she was arrested for the murder of Mathew Dunbar in Walcha.
The supreme court has confirmed a new trial has been fixed for late-March in Sydney and will run for up to seven weeks.
Darcy, who remains in custody, has been behind bars since she was charged in November 2017 at Tamworth police station.
She had been due to face trial in June, but the two-month trial was put on ice indefinitely when the COVID crisis took hold, forcing the closure of courts.
Justice Julia Lonergan had vacated the eight-week trial, and had yet to rule on a new date while the courts grappled with social distancing measures and stay-home orders.
The NSW Supreme Court - like most courts - has become a no-go zone amid the coronavirus pandemic, with jury trials abandoned and virtual hearings heard. Personal appearances by accused and solicitors were banned in courtrooms for two months in a bid to try and minimise the spread of the virus.
More than a dozen trials were put on hold and delayed because of the pandemic while some accused elected to have a trial by judge-alone.
Criminal jury trials resumed at the end of June in Sydney with two courtrooms used to accommodate social distancing measures.
In November last year, Darcy pleaded not guilty to murdering Mathew Dunbar near Walcha more than two years ago.
After Darcy formally entered her not guilty plea, the Crown and defence determined the eight-week trial should be heard in Sydney, not Tamworth.
Darcy stands accused of murdering Mr Dunbar on August 2, 2017, on his property, Pandora. Detectives allege she killed him in order to inherit the farm.
Oxley police set up Strike Force Ballin in the wake of Mr Dunbar's death, to investigate the circumstances surrounding it. The death was labelled suspicious at the time by senior police.
The Express revealed in 2017 that it was the police case Darcy had lied to investigators; used aliases and false names to allegedly source drugs; and made then deleted web browser searches on how to commit murder.
Police will allege many of those searches related to certain methods of causing death that are undetectable or hard to locate during a post mortem, and were allegedly deleted from her phone but recovered by police.
The court has previously been told the case against Darcy is voluminous.
She was arrested in Walcha in November 2017, three months after the 42-year-old's death.