Prosecutors say Tim McCurdy cannot receive a fair trial if it is held in Shepparton, even though the city is not within his electorate and an hour away from his office in Wangaratta.
McCurdy, the Ovens Valley MP who will recentest the seat in this month’s election, will face trial next year over allegations of real estate fraud.
It is alleged he used a letterhead belonging to his former real estate colleague in Cobram to facilitate the 2009 sales of two dairy farms and earn $375,000.
McCurdy briefly appeared in Shepparton County Court on Friday morning for a directions hearings.
The prosecution told Judge Duncan Allen it would apply for a change of venue for the trial, but McCurdy’s barrister Paul Laurie said he would strenuously oppose that application.
“Your client’s very popular locally, is he?” Judge Allen asked.
“My client’s the member for Ovens Valley, which is over at Wangaratta, not Shepparton,” Mr Laurie said.
He said there would be no issue in selecting jury members without a connection to McCurdy if the trial was held in Shepparton.
The issue will be debated further when the case comes back to court on January 24.
The prosecution is yet to file an indictment against McCurdy because there were issues to consider and further witnesses to interview following last month’s committal hearing.
Mr Laurie said the trial was expected to run five to seven days.
Judge Allen said there was no point setting a date for the trial until the issues were resolved.
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