The niece of former NSW union boss Derrick Belan has told a Sydney court her uncle asked her to use branch funds to pay for family holidays, clothes, lap-band surgery for his partner and orthodontic braces for his son.
Danielle O'Brien, who was a bookkeeper at the NSW branch of the National Union of Workers, broke down several times as she gave evidence at her uncle's hearing in Parramatta Local Court on Tuesday.
Belan has pleaded not guilty to 62 charges, most of them for obtaining financial advantage by deception.
He is accused of using the union's credit cards and accounts for his own personal benefit while state secretary between 2011 and 2015.
Ms O'Brien recalled the first time he gave her permission to personally use union money in 2010 - to get her hair done "so you look nice" for a Christmas party.
For years after that, she would call him to ask if she could use the card to buy other items - mostly online purchases from stores including Big W and Toys 'R Us, the court heard.
She was also asked to pay for holiday accommodation in Lake Conjola on the NSW south coast, dinners, storage units, car registration, about $56,000 in personal legal fees and for his son to get braces from union accounts.
But at one stage she said his behaviour changed and he looked "really thin, sickly".
"He had told me at one point (in 2011) he had a brain tumour and the medication made him unwell," Ms O'Brien said.
She was under the belief he had a tumour for about two years before discovering it wasn't true.
Belan's barrister, Anton Duc, on Monday said his client did not defraud the union of "one cent" and was not involved in any of the conduct he is accused of.
The hearing continues.
Australian Associated Press