Guy Sebastian was acting evasively while giving evidence at his former manager’s embezzlement trial and parts of the prosecutor’s closing address to the jury should be disregarded, a court has been told.
Titus Day, 49, has pleaded not guilty to a string of charges that relate to the alleged embezzlement of almost $900,000 in royalty, performance and ambassador income that the singer says he is owed.
After a six-week NSW District trial, Mr Day’s defence barrister Dominic Toomey began his closing address to the jury on Friday.
Mr Toomey told the court to approach everything Mr Sebastian said in court with “a very cautious eye”.
“Mr Sebastian was evasive in his answers to me and he was looking for an angle behind the question,” Mr Toomey said.
“He was looking to see if that angle … might favour Mr Day. He was careful not to give any evidence which he thought might favour Mr Day.
“There was a stark difference between Mr Sebastian’s responses to questions from the Crown and his responses to questions put to him by me.”
Mr Toomey said Mr Sebastian appeared easily able to answer questions put to him by the Crown but struggled when asked questions by Mr Day’s barrister.
“On many occasions he (Mr Sebastian) was not able to remember,” Mr Toomey said.
“He used questions from me, often to go off on a narrative of his own, off the topic he was being asked about often.
“He twisted himself in knots in evidence in an attempt not to acknowledge the existence of an agreement between him and Mr Day. He could not bring himself to use the word ‘contract’ in reference to his arrangement with Mr Day … Mr Sebastian believed that if he acknowledged the existence of the agreement that might about against his interest.”
The court was told the police officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Senior Constable David Murphy, had a potential conflict of interest in handling the case because the report about Mr Day’s alleged crimes was made by Mr Sebastian in the company of his best friend Tim Freeburn.
Mr Freeburn had played cricket with Constable Murphy, and previously Constable Murphy told the court that he raised the conflict of interest verbally with a police inspector and was cleared to handle the case but not take a statement from Mr Freeburn because of the social connection.
Mr Toomey told the court that Constable Murphy did not comply with NSW Police guidelines for handling conflict of interest issues because he did not make a report about it in writing.
“We can’t know what he (Constable Murphy] told Acting Inspector McGhee,” Mr Toomey said.
“He (Constable Murphy] had been approached by Mr Freeburn and Mr Sebastian together and within a short time of that approach he was laying charges.
“Detective Murphy couldn’t even say with any certainty that he had reach the contract before he charged Mr Day.”
Mr Toomey said Constable Murphy conceded he took what Mr Sebastian said about Mr Day to be “gospel truth” and was “wilfully blind” by not pursuing multiple lines of inquiry that were relevant to the investigation.
The court was told that Constable Murphy failed to make inquiries with contract lawyers or some organisations who Mr Day said he paid money to on Mr Sebastian’s behalf.
Before Mr Toomey began his closing address, Judge Tim Gartelmann SC gave the jury directions and said parts of Crown prosecutor David Morters SC’s closing address had to be disregarded.
Judge Gartelmann said in parts of the address Mr Morters had misstated evidence and invited the jury to speculate about Mr Day’s guilt.
“You cannot act on speculation,” Judge Gartlemann told the jury.
“You must disregard all submissions the Crown made based on claims there had been no explanation.
“The defence has no onus of proof at all. The accused is presumed innocent unless and until the Crown proves his guilty … he need not prove anything, he is not obliged to provide any explanation.”
The trial continues.