A series of messages about a lavish wedding in Venice have landed Guy Sebastian back in court.
The singer stepped back into the witness box on Monday to give more evidence in the trial of his former manager Titus Day, who has been accused of fraudulently embezzling about $900,000 allegedly owed to Mr Sebastian.
Christian Bugno, a superfan who had Mr Sebastian perform at his wedding in Venice in 2016, previously told the NSW District Court that he received multiple text messages from the former Australian Idol winner on May 23.
In the messages, which were sent in between periods in which Mr Sebastian was subject to cross-examination, Mr Bugno said his father paid to fly Mr Day and Mr Sebastian to the wedding.
The ceremony is one of multiple events that Mr Sebastian was paid to perform at and Mr Day was entitled to 20 per cent commission on; however, it’s alleged Mr Day kept more money than he was entitled to.
Mr Day’s barrister Dominic Toomey SC told the court that Mr Sebastian was given an exemption to speak to the Crown prosecutor’s team after he was cross-examined on May 23, but no mention was made of Mr Bugno and a general direction was given not to discuss evidence in the trial with anyone else.
Mr Sebastian said “no one told me I couldn’t” when asked if he was told he could contact Mr Bugno.
“I wasn’t told anything like that … if I can provide information I’m going to do it, especially if I know it’s wrong,” Mr Sebastian said.
“The whole purpose was to gather evidence that related to the cross-examination.”
When Mr Toomey asked if Mr Sebastian thought that it was his job to gather evidence in criminal proceedings, Mr Sebastian said “well, I’m the one with the contact”.
“I said I’ll text who did the travel,” Mr Sebastian said.
“Because we’re in court, I actually need to get evidence and not just say ‘oh I remember’.
“I remember clearly Mr Day saying ‘our flights are paid let’s do a trip over there’ … everything I was doing I was doing by the book.”
After Mr Sebastian finished giving evidence, Mr Toomey spent the remainder of the day grilling the police officer in charge of the case.
Detective David Murphy told the court he visited Mr Sebastian’s house multiple times to discuss the case after the pair met through mutual friend Tim Freeburn, who had previously played cricket with the detective.
The court was told while Det Murphy thought Mr Freeburn might have been able to provide material evidence — because he attended a meeting between Mr Day and Mr Sebastian after their relationship broke down — a statement from Mr Freeburn was never taken.
Mr Toomey said: “So you [Det Murphy] tell this jury that you perceive there would be a conflict of interest in obtaining a statement from Mr Freeburn but you did not perceive there to be any conflict of interest in you remaining the officer in charge of the investigation?”
Det Murphy replied: “That’s correct”.
“I spoke to the DPP [Office of the Director of Public Prosecution] and a decision got made not to take a statement from him [Mr Freeburn],” Det Murphy said.
The court was told Det Murphy had told a superior he and Mr Freeburn knew each other, but the pair weren’t considered friends despite Mr Freeburn having the detective’s phone number.
“I knew him from a long time ago …[he was a] loose friend, I don’t ring him up, I don’t talk to him,” Det Murphy said of Mr Freeburn.
Although Mr Day provided explanations about a range of reasons why it may have appeared as though Mr Sebastian was not paid the right amounts of money, the court was told Det Murphy did not contact various other people or businesses Mr Day allegedly made payments to on Mr Sebastian’s behalf.
“You knew that what they might tell you might be exculpatory at least,” Mr Toomey asked.
Det Murphy said “well there’s always a possibility isn’t there”.
The trial continues.