A man arrested in Armidale, in NSW's Northern Tablelands, on slavery allegations has had some of his case suppressed in court but his bid for release has been refused.
Five women who are all in a relationship with the man accused of keeping a former partner as a slave were in court for his bail application on Wednesday.
The partners of James Robert Davis, 40, waved to magistrate Vivian Swain in Armidale Local Court when defence barrister Ian Lloyd, QC, insisted that the women were not enslaved and were all in consensual relationships with the accused.
One of the women is 17 weeks pregnant with Davis' child the court was told.
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Davis is facing three charges of possessing a slave, reducing a person to slavery and causing a person to enter or remain in servitude, which a related to a relationship he had in Sydney between 2013 and 2015.
Those charges followed an investigation by ABC program Four Corners, which reported the matter to police.
Davis was later arrested in Armidale on March 11 and charged by the Australian Federal Police.
He is being held in custody, and as part of their bail application, Mr Lloyd said Davis was being held in 24-hour protective custody because he had previously worked as a prison guard at several jails in Sydney.
It was one of the submissions that formed a lengthy bid for bail.
"As strange as this case may be, it is defendable," Mr Lloyd said. "My client has said all along he has no history of violence."
But Ms Swain refused bail after hearing lengthy arguments from the Commonwealth DPP, who said the police investigation was still ongoing and police had concerns Davis could approach the complainant or any potential witnesses.
Mr Lloyd had earlier tried to suppress all media coverage of the trial, arguing that this week's report on Four Corners and other media reporting had dramatically increased the coverage on the case.
He said this would prevent Davis from receiving a fair trial.
"These are federal charges, they must go before a jury," Mr Lloyd said.
He referred to the cases of corrupt politicians Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald, who elected to have judge-only trials because of the publicity their cases had received, and pointed out that this was not an option in Davis' case.
The magistrate decided against a non-publication order, but placed a suppression order on some of the details of the case.
The DPP tendered a seven-page document to the court outlining the case against Davis, who appeared in court via video link from Tamworth Correctional Centre, dressed in prison greens.
The case will be transferred to Central Local Court in Sydney where a brief of evidence is due to be served on May 19.