McCurdy to stand trial
Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy will stand trial and be required to attend a directions hearing just weeks before the state election after facing court last week.
The Nationals MP faced Shepparton Magistrates’ Court for a two day committal hearing to see if there was sufficient evidence to stand trial over allegations he made false documents in connection with the sale of two Cobram dairy farms in 2009.
Mr McCurdy denies the allegations and said he will plead not guilty to the charges.
A directions hearing has been set for November 2, less than three weeks before Victorians go to the polls.
Speaking outside court last week, Mr McCurdy said the trial will not derail his bid for re-election and said he will be running for Ovens Valley and will continue to do the good work he has been doing over the last eight years.
“We’re one step closer to the next opportunity for me to have my say,” he said.
It’s alleged Mr McCurdy, 55, sold two dairy farms in 2009, wrongly using former colleague Andrew Gilmour’s real estate agency’s name, and collecting $269,000 in commissions.
Prosecutors argue Mr McCurdy wrongly used Mr Gilmour’s agency letterheads during the sales without his knowledge or permission.
But Mr McCurdy’s lawyers told the court Mr Gilmour had to authorise payment of the property sale commission and his agency knowingly transferred the cash to the defendant.
In the witness box, Mr Gilmour at times contradicted evidence from his former receptionist and admitted knowledge of the sales in 2009.
Mr Gilmour first took his complaint to Consumer Affairs Victoria in 2014. It was referred to police and almost four years later charges were laid.
The court was told the men were neighbours and worked together on-and-off for several years and were colleagues when one of the farms went up for sale in 2008.
Mr Gilmour ran an auction for the property as Mr McCurdy was unlicensed to do so, but it did not result in a sale.
A short time later their employer, PGG Wrightson, closed its Australian operations, selling two offices to Mr Gilmour, who subsequently opened Gilmour and Company in 2009 while Mr McCurdy worked for another firm.
Mr Gilmour’s former receptionist Kally Morey told the court last Wednesday Mr McCurdy asked for a letterhead during one of his regular visits to the office and she handed it over.
But then the next day, Mr Gilmour told the court Mr McCurdy was never in the office.
The parties reached an undisclosed civil settlement in 2014.
The directions hearing on November 2 comes ahead of the November 24 state election, when McCurdy plans to recontest his safe seat for the Nationals, which he holds with a 16.6 per cent margin.
The Nationals say he will continue to work hard for his constituents until the matter is resolved.
“Advice from Tim’s legal representation before the week’s committal hearing was that charges of this nature would usually proceed to trial, and that is the outcome Tim had expected,” the party said in a statement after the court decision.