Court
Court

Paul Pisasale extortion trial: Jury considers verdict

A JUDGE has addressed the jury as the Paul Pisasale extortion trial comes to an end, telling them to treat the former mayor's evidence the same as they would that of any other witness.

The jury has today retired to consider its verdict following a seven-day trial.

The former Ipswich mayor, 67, has pleaded not guilty to extortion, as have his co-accused, Ipswich lawyer Cameron McKenzie and escort Yutian Li, who was 37 when charged.

Judge Brad Farr summed up the case this morning as the Brisbane District Court trial drew to a close.

He reminded jurors they must be convinced beyond reasonable doubt each element of the offence had been proven and Pisasale's evidence treated "the same as you would any other witness".

Judge Farr directed the jury to disregard a Crown prosecutor's submission yesterday - in which Pisasale's evidence was likened to that of a politician - saying it had no relevance.

He also told the jury not to draw any adverse inference against either Li or Pisasale from her having been working as an escort when they met.

"You must not draw any adverse inference against the defendant Li because she worked as an escort, nor must you draw on the evidence an inference or against Pisasale because he utilised the services of an escort," the judge said.

"This is a court of law, not a court of morals."

 

Former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale outside Brisbane District Court today. Picture: David Clark/AAP
Former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale outside Brisbane District Court today. Picture: David Clark/AAP

 

The court has previously heard Pisasale met Li while she was in Brisbane working as either an escort or a masseuse.

A two-hour massage was arranged for him, which included sexual services.

Li allegedly told Pisasale about her Sydney taxi driver ex-boyfriend, telling him he had promised to marry her before breaking it off and was later found to be already married, the court heard.

Prosecutors allege Li wanted to stay in Australia and Pisasale demanded money from her ex-boyfriend as a means to help her stay, but that there was no reasonable cause to the demand.

It is alleged he made a series of phone calls to the ex-boyfriend posing as a private investigator in which he demanded up to $10,000 for Li and made various threats.

He later instructed McKenzie to send a letter of demand to the ex-boyfriend for $8400, which included $6100 for a private investigator.

Prosecutors allege no debt existed and there was no evidence of private investigation.

Pisasale's defence counsel Lincoln Crowley, however, told the court that Pisasale honestly believed Li was owed money after she told him of coming to Australia to investigate the truth about her ex-boyfriend.

"He's a sucker for a damsel in distress," Mr Crowley told the court.

"He's either been taken with or taken by Ms Li.

"In his mind, he believes her."



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