Paul Pisasale’s answers ‘suit his agenda’: Crown prosecutor

PAUL Pisasale avoided questions and gave non-responsive answers to "suit his agenda" during his extortion trial," a crown prosecutor has told a court today.

Prosecutor Sarah Farnden made the comments in addressing the jury in the Brisbane District Court this morning as the extortion trial nears its end this week.

The former Ipswich Mayor, 67, is accused of two counts of extortion along with Ipswich solicitor Cameron McKenzie and China-born escort worker Yutian Li, who was 37 years old when charged.

All three have pleaded not guilty.
 

Paul Pisasale holds a press conference at St Andrews Private Hospital in Ipswich in June 2017. Picture: Tim Marsden
Paul Pisasale holds a press conference at St Andrews Private Hospital in Ipswich in June 2017. Picture: Tim Marsden

The prosecution alleges Pisasale demanded money from the ex-boyfriend of Li with no reasonable basis by "lying and misleading" the man into paying money to her.

Pisasale met the woman after she was introduced to him by his barrister friend Sam Di Carlo, who arranged for a two-hour massage for him in early 2017.

That massage included sexual services, Pisasale last week agreed during cross-examination.

He began seeing Li, who told him she had come to Australia to be with a man she was to discover was already married.

The court heard Pisasale later phoned Li's ex-boyfriend, first posing as someone running a phone survey on health to learn his marital status, then as a private investigator, where he asked for up to $10,000 for Li.

He than asked McKenzie to send a letter of demand to the man for $8400, which included $6100 in costs for a private investigator, the court has heard.

But the prosecution has told court no debt was owed, and no private investigator was hired.

Pisasale told the court he was attempting to help a "devastated" woman recoup what she was "legally entitled to" in coming to Australia to learn the truth.

He said she had told him of having spent up to $10,000, which included investigations, and he had no reason not to believe her.

Former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale is defending charges including corruption, fraud and perjury following the now-closed investigation. None of the charges relate to the Japan trip allegations. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England
Former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale is defending charges including corruption, fraud and perjury following the now-closed investigation. None of the charges relate to the Japan trip allegations. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England

"(Pisasale) had an agenda that he was selling and that agenda came through no matter what the question he was actually being asked was," she said.

"He gave evidence, you might have though, like the politician he was and that doesn't excuse his evidence.

"In true politician style what he did was avoid giving an answer that was unfavourable to the position that he wanted to adopt.

"He avoided using words he didn't think suited the agenda of his case. He added non responsive answers to questions to suit his agenda."

Ms Farnden also told the court there were inconsistencies in Pisasale's evidence surrounding what he was told by Li about the money she says she was owed, and conversations with McKenzie.

The court has heard that Pisasale did not ask for documents showing any amounts paid by Li on travel or for an investigation before phoning her ex-boyfriend and asking for a letter of demand.

Ms Farnden continued that Pisasale saw the ex-boyfriend as a "potentially a source to get some money" from to support Li.

But she said he did not "honestly believe" she was entitled to the money when he threatened the ex-boyfriend.

She said Li and the ex-boyfriend were not in a defacto relationship and he had ended it before she decided to travel to Australia to see him.

"It was a relationship of about eight months mainly conducted, we heard, over WeChat, a couple of overseas trips and a few days spent in Sydney," she said.

"Relationships end and when relationships end you can't go and make threats your ex-boyfriend owes you the cost of your airfare you paid when you wanted to come and see him after he ended that relationship.

"Or your costs of accommodation after the relationship ends and you decide to stay in Australia. Or costs that you decided yourself to incur to find out the truth, even if such a thing did happen."

But Pisasale's barrister Lincoln Crowley on Friday told the court he believed Li was owed money.

"He's a sucker for a damsel in distress. He's either been taken with or take by Ms Li. In his mind, he believes her," Mr Crowley told the court.

Li's barrister Joshua Fenton today rejected that his client could have committed an offence by aiding Pisasale in an alleged extortion because of her poor command of English.

"Her English isn't good enough to participate in this conspiracy," he said.

"The point is this person does not have sufficient use of the English language to make her intentions known.

"At the end of the day. she was a naive person who poured her heart out to a good Samaritan and things got misinterpreted."