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New charges delay ex-Qld mayor’s trial

by admin on 18/09/2019

A trial for “unwell” suspended Ipswich mayor Andrew Antoniolli has been delayed after initial fraud charges were dismissed and replaced by 14 new ones.
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Antoniolli was charged by the corruption watchdog with seven counts of fraud relating to allegations he used ratepayer funds to obtain charity auction items in May.

Those charges have been dismissed and replaced with the new charges relating to similar allegations after prosecutors reconsidered their brief.

His trial – set down for six days from September 17 in Ipswich Magistrates Court – has been pushed back until at least next month.

The lawyer for Antoniolli, who appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday, called for the trial to proceed as scheduled to allow the 47-year-old to clear his name.

“My client has obviously suffered enormous reputational damage as a result of these allegations,” his solicitor Dan Rogers told the court.

“He is unwell.

“He has a right to have his matters heard expeditiously.”

Mr Rogers said 10 witnesses in Antoniolli’s favour were “ready to go”.

But magistrate Anthony Gett, who will oversee Antoniolli’s trial, ruled the prosecution should be given more time.

“Justice delayed is justice denied. Courts are loath to grant unnecessary adjournments,” Mr Gett said.

“(But) in my view, the nature of the case and the way (the prosecution) has indicated fresh material may be forthcoming … I do find the adjournment should be granted.”

Antoniolli did not comment on his way out of Brisbane Magistrates Court, where his matter will next be heard on October 26 when a new trial date could be set.

He remains on the same bail conditions as previously, meaning he cannot attend the Ipswich City Council building or contact councillors, who were sacked by Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe.

Antoniolli is fighting charges brought by Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission which claims he used council funds “for his own use to purchase auction items from charitable organisations” between October 2011 and June 2017.

Antoniolli has also been accused of breaching his bail conditions.

He’s the second Ipswich mayor in less than a year to be charged with criminal offences.

His predecessor Paul Pisasale, who resigned last June, is facing allegations including corruption and misconduct.

Pisasale’s matter was also heard in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday. It was adjourned to October 5.

A total of 15 councillors and staff have been charged with corruption and fraud offences, prompting Mr Hinchliffe to dismiss Ipswich council last month.

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