THE father of Warrnambool City councillor Jennifer Lowe yesterday told a committal hearing how he saw his daughter hand over a fuel card to her husband who then drove off in the family’s private car to refuel.
Retired pensioner Geoff Flynn yesterday gave evidence at a committal hearing in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court.
Mrs Lowe, 37, was charged in July last year with 49 theft-related offences involving about $25,000.
The thefts were alleged to have occurred while Mrs Lowe was the finance officer with the Worn Gundidj Aboriginal Co-operative. Her husband Robert Lowe, 39, faced two representative charges, involving goods valued at just over $17,000.
The charges jumped to almost 600 alleged offences after the use of a fuel card was broken down into individual transactions on the eve of the committal hearing which started on April 2 this year. The hearing recommenced this week.
Yesterday Mr Flynn said through cross-examination by defence counsel Damian Sheales he worked at the Worn Gundidj co-op for about four years after the year 2000.
Mr Flynn agreed that he and his daughter had a big falling out and they haven’t spoken for years.
He said that when he was working at the co-op he would sit in his daughter’s office and saw her on occasions give a fuel card to her husband’s parents.
Mr Flynn said when he questioned his daughter about the fuel card she said they were entitled to use it.
Under cross-examination, Mr Flynn said the use of the fuel card was not hidden.
He said Robbie Lowe also came into the office and asked for the fuel card “eight or nine times”, got the card and left the office.
Mr Flynn agreed under cross-examination that sometimes Mr Lowe took his wife’s black car to fill it up but that was not included in his four-page statement to police because he never thought of it.
“I only saw Robbie drive the black car a couple of times,” he said.
Mr Flynn said he also noticed on occasions that when he left the office after Mr Lowe that the Lowes’ cream-coloured family station wagon had been taken to be refuelled.
“I saw him get in his station wagon and leave on occasions,” he said.
Mr Flynn agreed that no one tried to hide that Mr Lowe was given a fuel card.
“There may not have been any secret but it was done quietly. I’m not used to trick questions young fella,” he told Mr Sheales.
Detective Senior Constable Gary Greene, of the Warrnambool police crime investigation unit, was again twice called yesterday to explain details of his investigations.
Under re-examination by prosecutor Daniel Porceddu, Detective Senior Constable Greene said Mrs Lowe denied in an interview that she ever had an easel, but during a subsequent interview she changed her statement to say that the easel had been at her home but was returned to the co-op.
Detective Senior Constable Greene said no witness had ever seen an easel at the co-op and an easel was not found there, but several witnesses had seen an easel at Mrs Lowe’s home.
Under cross-examination, co-op director Leigh Fary said items from the co-op were able to be borrowed and returned, such as boxes, lawnmowers and, he agreed, items such as an easel — if the co-op had an easel.
The committal hearing before magistrate Ann McGarvie is scheduled to finish today.