Former Ipswich mayor Andrew Antoniolli.
Former Ipswich mayor Andrew Antoniolli. DAN PELED

Key witness blocked in Antoniolli trial

IPSWICH'S former long serving planning and development committee chairman Paul Tully will not take the stand as a surprise Crown witness in the case against former mayor Andrew Antoniolli.

Antoniolli's legal team yesterday opposed the last-minute inclusion of former councillor Mr Tully when Crown prosecutor Sarah Farnden made the application to Magistrate Anthony Gett.

Ms Farnden said police interviewed Mr Tully at the weekend about email communications. It was a two-hour interview recording with no transcript available to the court.

Ms Farnden told Ipswich Magistrates Court she'd been advised earlier by the defence legal team it objected to Mr Tully being called unless there was full disclosure made of the recorded material by the CCC.

Stirling Hinchliffe holds a press conference in the Ipswich CBD mall with regards to the Ipswich City Council. Councilor Paul Tully.
Former councillor Paul Tully. Cordell Richardson

The defence objected to an adjournment of the hearing for any legal argument over disclosure to take place.

Mr Gett queried that Mr Tully had not previously given a statement to the prosecution and that it wasn't envisaged that he should.

"Yes, that is so," Ms Farnden said.

Mr Gett said evidence given earlier in the trial by former councillor David Morrison was consistent with Mr Antoniolli's testimony "that others were doing it" in relation to using the council's community donations fund to pay for auction items.

However, Ms Farnden said regarding the test for dishonesty it had no relevance whether others were committing offences.

"Was Mr Tully's name ever mentioned in interviews?" Mr Gett asked.

Antoniolli's defence barrister Peter Callaghan said nothing had happened since the hearing began that changed the nature of the issues that clearly delineated with his client.

He said what Mr Morrison had undertaken was something clearly flagged with the CCC.

Mr Callaghan said if the hearing was adjourned it would cause further stress for his client who wanted the matter to proceed as quickly as possible.

Mr Callaghan said it was only on Sunday, Antoniolli had been provided with a further statement of another witness and there was hours of material that would have to be disclosed and analysed before he could give evidence.

"And here we are at the end of the Crown case, here we are assessing that there is another witness," Mr Callaghan said.

"The Crown should be denied an adjournment. The case should proceed."

Mr Callaghan said there was nothing in the statement the defence should worry about.

Mr Gett said the Crown had asked him to warn Mr Morrison at a point when giving his evidence.

Mr Callaghan said the issue had been alive to the fact of Mr Morrison attending community auctions (when a councillor) and bidding.

Mr Gett said the prosecution sought to call Mr Tully as a witness after a statement he made at the weekend.

He said witness material was sought by Antoniolli's defence to consider before Mr Tully, if allowed, could give evidence.

He said the Crown sought to call Mr Tully, "to rebuff" a possible defence that's arisen, which came from Mr Morrison.

Mr Gett said it would seem the matter has had sufficient time and with already significant delays, and where fresh charges had been preferred, and with five review mentions for case conferencing.

He said it could not be reasonably argued the prosecution had not had time to effectively prepare the Crown case.

Finding it was in the interests of justice that the hearing proceed in an expeditious way, Mr Gett refused to grant the Crown an adjournment that would allow Mr Tully to give evidence.