The Free Press (Corowa)
McCurdy “delighted and relieved” as charges lifted
Local Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy says he’s delighted and relieved fraud charges relating to nearly $270,000 in property sale commissions have been tossed out of court last week.
Mr McCurdy has also confirmed he will continue to represent the electorate and will stand again at next year’s state election.
Mr McCurdy was standing trial in Victoria’s County Court on three charges of using a false document, and one each of obtaining and attempting to obtain property by deception.
The charges stemmed from the sales of two dairy farms near Cobram in 2009, when Mr McCurdy worked in real estate and before he was elected.
Judge George Georgiou on Wednesday, April 21 discharged the jury and ordered verdicts of not guilty be entered.
It came after Mr McCurdy’s lawyers argued there had been no deception or dishonesty, and there was no criminal case to answer.
Judge Georgiou told the jury there was “simply no evidence” capable of proving the elements of the charges.
“Even taking the prosecution evidence at its highest, you could not lawfully convict Mr
McCurdy on any of (the) charges,” the judge said.
Before the judges verdict Prosecutor Susan Borg told the jury Mr McCurdy wrongly used the letterheads of a former real estate colleague in the sales of the Pinegrove and Malmo properties. Ms Borg said in doing so, Mr McCurdy dishonestly pocketed one sales commission worth $163,900.
The prosecutor said another $105,105 commission Mr McCurdy netted through the other sale was obtained legitimately.
But it was alleged he engaged in dishonest conduct in the lead-up to landing that commission, and on this basis was charged with attempting to obtain it by deception.
Speaking outside court, Mr McCurdy said he and his family were relieved and “absolutely delighted” with the not guilty result”.
“This has been 10 years of false allegations and we’re pleased to see it come to the end that it has,” he said.
“This has been a long journey for it us, it’s been a horrible journey for our family.”
He pinned the allegations against him on “people who’ve got an axe to grind”.
“There’s people involved in this with their fingerprints all over this and they need to be exposed for these false allegations,” he said, clarifying he did not intend to launch legal action of his own.
Mr McCurdy became the local state member for Murray Valley in 2010 before winning Ovens Valley at the 2014 election.
The state’s Nationals leader, Peter Walsh, said the dismissal of the charges “has proven what we already knew”.
“I commend Tim McCurdy on his focus and strong advocacy for the people of Ovens Valley over the course of this process,” Mr Walsh said.