Paul Pisasale arrives outside Brisbane District Court. Picture: AAP/Dave Hunt
Paul Pisasale arrives outside Brisbane District Court. Picture: AAP/Dave Hunt

PISASALE JAILED: Acts 'almost incomprehensible'

PAUL Pisasale will spend 12 months in jail for extorting the Sydney taxi driver ex-boyfriend of a Chinese escort he was seeing.

The former Ipswich mayor was given a two-year prison sentence this afternoon, to be suspended after 12 months.

It follows his conviction yesterday on two counts of extortion.

"Your fall from grace has been from a great height and very public," Judge Brad Farr said in his sentencing remarks.

China-born escort Yutian Li, 39, was sentenced to 18 months' prison, suspended after seven months.

A third man, Ipswich lawyer Cameron McKenzie, 37, was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, suspended after nine months.

All three spent last night in custody awaiting their sentencing this afternoon, with Pisasale appearing the same dark suit and spotted tie that he wore to court yesterday and hair slightly ruffled after a night in the cell.

His family members were not seen in the courtroom during sentencing.

In his sentencing remarks, Judge Farr told Pisasale, as he stood in the dock this afternoon, that he accepted his offences stemmed from things he was told by Li about being mistreated by her former boyfriend, which the then-mayor had "accepted at face value."

But he said he did not believe she had incurred expenses stemming from anything her ex-boyfriend had told Li when he posed as a private investigator in a phone call to the man, demanding money.

"You did not believe she had employed a private investigator to carry out an investigation nor did you believe that she had incurred flight or accommodation expenses," Judge Farr said.

"In fact when you spoke to Xin Li on the phone when you were falsely pretending to be a private investigator you made no mention whatsoever of her incurring flight or accommodation expenses because of him," he continued.

"It is apparent that you and she embarked upon this course of conduct to punish Xin Li."

He said the pair had obviously discussed punishing the ex-boyfriend prior to a phone call in which Pisasale pretended to be first conducting a phone survey, and later a private investigator

The acts were "almost incomprehensible," Judge Farr said.

"You issued threats of a serious nature, knowing that Ms Li had no legal entitlement to recover any money, and you relied on your claimed position as a private investigator to help leverage the demand that you were making."

He also described a comment by Pisasale to the ex-boyfriend at one point, where he accuses the man of trying to blackmail Ms Li - an "act of breathtaking hypocrisy".

Pisasale then enlisted a solicitor (McKenzie), to "ramp up the pressure" on the ex-boyfriend, he said.

"In your conversations with Mr McKenzie you said on a number of occasions you didn't want to blackmail Mr Li, but it was clear that you didn't want to appear to be blackmail," Judge Farr said.

"Your counsel has submitted that in committing these offences you acted foolishly in an attempt to right what you perceived to be a wrong perpetuated by (the ex-boyfriend) out of a misguided sense of justice. But I do not accept that. You knew she had not incurred investigation expenses. You knew that she flew to Australia, not at the invitation of (the ex-boyfriend) but of her own volition after being told ..that the relationship was over."

Judge Farr said it was clear Pisasale thought the ex-boyfriend would pay demands of $10,000 and later $8,400 to keep his relationship with Li a secret.

He took into account Pisasale's time in office and community contribution, however, in sentencing.


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