Former Fraser Coast Council CEO Lisa Desmond leaving the Hervey Bay court house after giving evidence on day one of ex-mayor Chris Loft's trial.
Former Fraser Coast Council CEO Lisa Desmond leaving the Hervey Bay court house after giving evidence on day one of ex-mayor Chris Loft's trial. Jessica Lamb

DAY TWO: Desmond, Downie take stand in Loft case


DAY two of ex-mayor Chris Loft's trial in Hervey Bay District Court has ended.

The case is expected to resume at 10am tomorrow.


HERVEY Bay District Court has heard from Bronwyn Blagoev, an employee of the Department of Local Government, during the trial of former Fraser Coast mayor Chris Loft.

Ms Blagoev gave evidence by phone link which included information councillors are given when they undergo induction.

She also gave details of three face-to-face interviews with Mr Loft with the director general at the time, of the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning where topics covered included Mr Loft's relationship with council chief executive officer Lisa Desmond.

Currently Sergeant Troy Newman, a detective who worked for the Crime and Corruption Commission and investigated Mr Loft, has taken the stand.

The jury is being played a video recording of an interview Mr Loft undertook on November 10 2017 with the CCC.

During the video, Mr Loft tells the interviewer " I never once offered him a job on council. I would have liked him on council but it is not my role that I can offer him a job."

When describing how he met Mr Downie, Mr Loft said Mr Downie impressed him when he went for an interview for the general manager's position at Fraser Coast Opportunities which was associated with the Fraser Coast Regional Council.

"He didn't get the job, subsequent to that now I can see why, with regard to matters of the former CEO, she didn't want people better than her in positions, he would have been a stand out," Mr Loft said on the video.

Mr Loft continued to say during his time as a councillor since being elected in 2012, he "realised the place was a circus".

Mr Loft told the interviewer although he knew he was not "supposed to send them (emails from his council email address) to home (his personal email address), it was common practise that councillors did."

"Now I know that it is a policy that was written, whether written after some of these things or back prior, I don't know when that was written."

Mr Loft said he would send documents he wanted to print at 'home' to his personal email address as there was 'dysfunction' at the office.

"I would be getting 100 emails a day, be working all day and then be working at home at night time and it was convenient to print out at home," he said.

"The only assistance former CEO gave me on my election of mayor was secretary and didn't know she was only 4 days a week until she didn't rock up on Friday."


BRIAN Downie has finished giving evidence in former Fraser Coast mayor Chris Loft's trial.

During cross examination by Defence Barrister Mitch Rawling, the former campaign manager for Mr Loft revealed it was a conversation with an officer of the Department of Local Government Stephen Johnston which revealed the need for a 'chief of staff' position to be created to help the mayor.

"My understanding is Stephen Johnston, a former CEO of a council himself, was put in by the Department of Local Government to try and work on what was going on between the ceo and the mayor," Mr Downie said.

"He noted Chris clearly needed help."

Mr Downie agreed when it was put to him by the defence barrister that Mr Loft was 'floundering'.

Mr Downie agreed it was Mr Johnston who suggested Mr Loft required a higher level support and as a result of this conversation Mr Johnston suggested a position description be formulated.

However Mr Downie could not recall if this conversation place before or after he emailed Mr Loft with a position description of a 'mayoral executive officer'.

Mr Downie said Mr loft never promised him a job with council or told him he would get a job with council.


BRIAN Downie has been testifying for more than an hour in the trial of ex-mayor Chris Loft.

Mr Downie is being questioned by the crown prosecutor Sam Bain focusing on his email correspondence with Mr Loft and, at times, Mr Loft's son Jason Loft.

He told the court he drafted a response, relating to a job, for Mr Loft to send to former Fraser Coast Regional Council chief executive officer Lisa Desmond of his own volition without being asked by anyone.

He said he collected the email from Mr Loft's office after a Saturday morning meeting which explained why it was found at his house during a search warrant by police.

For full details of the testimony see tomorrow's Fraser Coast Chronicle.

The court is expected to break for lunch at 1pm.


THE man Chris Loft is accused of using his position as Fraser Coast mayor to tailor a job for and manipulate the hiring process to benefit, has taken the stand.

He took to the witness box after the former Fraser Coast Regional Council chief executive officer Lisa Desmond finished giving evidence.

The court heard Brian Downie worked as Mr Loft's "pro bono" campaign manager a few days a week and then after the election was employed as his personal secretary for $5000 a month which then went down to $2000 a month.

Mr Downie said he would attend Saturday morning meetings with Mr Loft regularly.

Sometimes, this was said to be in the company of Mr Loft's son, Jason.

The crown prosecutor continues to question Mr Downie about his emails to Mr Loft.


FORMER Fraser Coast mayor Chris Loft greeted reporters with a smile and 'good morning' while walking into Hervey Bay court house his lawyer Angelo Venardos this morning.

The second day of Mr Loft's trial is set to begin at 10am.

Mr Loft is accused of tailoring a job position and manipulating the hiring process to benefit his former campaign manager Brian Downie.

Mr Loft has pleaded not guilty to one charge of misconduct while in public office.

When the trial resumes, the cross examination of ex Fraser Coast Regional Council chief executive officer Lisa Desmond will continue.

More to come.