The daughter of famed environmental scientist and author Mary White has been released on bail after being charged over her mother’s death.
White was found dead at an aged care home in Bundanoon, NSW, on Sunday, and her daughter Barbara Eckersley, 67, was later charged with murder.
According to the Guardian and multiple other reports, Eckersley first appeared in Goulburn Court on Thursday but was held in custody overnight after making no application for bail.
She then appeared again on Friday over the charges, and was this time bailed. Eckersley will return to court in October.
According to the ABC, Eckersley’s barrister, Hugh White, told the court she had been married for 38 years and had three children and four grandchildren. While he noted her impeccable character, the prosecution argued a charge of murder is serious enough for bail to be denied.
However, Magistrate Geraldine Beattie reportedly noted her strong community ties and said there was “nothing to contradict claims of an impeccable character”, before granting bail.
In an official statement, aged care provider Warrigal said they were “deeply saddened to hear of this news. At this early stage, we are busy working with police,” Nine News reports.
White was previously named a member of the order of Australia in 2009 “for service to botany as a researcher and through the promotion of increased understanding and awareness of the natural world”. She was also awarded the Eureka prize in 1994.
The Australian paleobotanist and author was originally born in South Africa, but migrated to Australia in 1955.
She went on to work as a consultant for the Bureau of Mineral Resources in Canberra, before being hired in 1975 as a research associate for the Australian Museum. There, she established a collection of 12,000 specimens of plant fossils.
After winning the Eureka prize for her book After The Greening, studying the history of Australia’s climate and human influence on vegetation, she said: “Everything is interconnected and we must find and accept the place of humans in the overall scheme of things,” she said. “It is fundamental to the problems that we have today.”
Police were first called to the aged care facility to reports that an elderly female resident had died. Officers arrived at the residential village at around 9.35pm on Sunday.