When Andrew Antoniolli questioned the relevance of the prosecutor's question Magistrate Anthony Gett took a swipe at his comment.
When Andrew Antoniolli questioned the relevance of the prosecutor's question Magistrate Anthony Gett took a swipe at his comment. DAN PELED

Tense exchange as Crown demands answers from ex-mayor

ANDREW Antoniolli was repeatedly told to answer the prosecutor's questions when he took the witness box on day five of his trial in the Ipswich Magistrates Court.

Antoniolli's 18-year career as a politician was evident as he took the stand, with the prosecution and magistrate repeatedly asking the former mayor to answer questions directly.

Antoniolli was in the box under examination from Crown Prosecutor Sarah Farnden for about two hours.

The former mayor is charged with 12 counts of fraud and one of attempted fraud in relation to the acquisition of auction items using council funds.

He has pleaded not guilty.

It is alleged Antoniolli dishonestly obtained a benefit by purchasing auction items using Ipswich City Council cash.

The court heard Antoniolli had no power or ability to make any purchase on behalf of the council.

Ms Farnden repeatedly asked Antoniolli if, in making payment to community groups, it was his intention to acquire auction items.

Antoniolli almost always responded by declaring it was only his intention to support the community group.

Magistrate Anthony Gett intervened several times to ask the former mayor to directly answer Ms Farnden's questions.

When Antoniolli questioned the relevance of the prosecutor's question Mr Gett took a swipe at his comment.

"Relevance is a matter for me, not for you," Mr Gett said.

Ms Farnden suggested Antoniolli attended charity nights and bid on items to increase his popularity and secure community recognition.

"I think it's a cynical question," he responded.

"I'd like to think my work as a councillor in the delivery of council services and the like would have accounted for more than just supporting a few charities."

Ms Farnden moved through the charges, one-by-one, and put to Antoniolli that he knew the purchase of auction items using council funds was wrong.

Antoniolli disagreed and said he "would try and up-bid items to support the fundraising efforts of the organisation".

Ms Farnden mentioned purchase of a gym membership for $500 at a silent auction.

She suggested Antoniolli later decided he didn't want the membership after realising it may raise eyebrows

"That's absurd, I never wanted it, never desired it," he said.

"I don't even have time to go to the gym."

The defence has concluded its case and the matter will return to court on Monday.



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