Pisasale lawyer claims he was 'doing what he was told to'
A SOLICITOR who was "doing what he was told to" when he helped former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale extort a Sydney taxi driver has failed in a bid for release from jail.
Cameron James McKenzie, 37, was found guilty alongside Pisasale and escort Yutian Li of extorting Li's former partner for up to $10,000 after a Brisbane District Court trial in July.
Ipswich man McKenzie is fighting to overturn his conviction and 18-month jail sentence, to be suspended after nine months.
He applied for bail on Friday ahead of an appeal court hearing likely this year, in a bid to take up a job offer from an earthworks company to pay his family's mortgage.
But he was denied bail in Brisbane Supreme Court after his argument that a juror who also works a solicitor could have been biased was labelled speculative by Justice Jean Dalton.
"(We) challenge the verdict on the basis of what's possible the juror could have done in the jury room, given their knowledge and skill," McKenzie's barrister Anthony Fronis told the court.
McKenzie has asked his lawyers to investigate the juror.
He was convicted after, at the request of Pisasale, he wrote to victim Xin Li demanding money and threatening to take him to the Federal Court if he did not pay.
He also claims Judge Brad Farr in handing down his sentence did not fully consider his personal circumstances, namely that the father-of-two would lose his career as a legal practitioner.
"He's going to lose his source of income and that's a significant mitigating feature, which appears not to be taken into account," Mr Fronis said.
Mr Fronis argued the sentence was manifestly excessive given "most extortion cases are more serious" because they include violence, while McKenzie was not the principal offender.
"He's essentially not one of the masterminds behind the operation, but rather doing what he was essentially told to do by the mayor," Mr Fronis said.
Justice Dalton said she did not believe McKenzie had strong prospects of appeal.
Pisasale was convicted of two counts of extortion after posing as a private investigator to demand money from Xin because it was "rightfully owed" to Yutian, a Singaporean woman the former politician made friends with after receiving escort services from her.
Pisasale was sentenced to two years' prison, to be suspended after he serves 12 months, while Yutian's 15 months' jail sentence will be suspended after seven months.