Former Ipswich lord mayor Paul Pisale, a Singaporean friend named Yutian Li and a lawyer named Cameron McKenzie were accused of participating in a bizarre extortion plot:
“Prosecutors claim Yutian told Pisasale she wanted to punish Xin after learning he was married during their relationship.
Pisasale then allegedly posed as a private investigator in a series of phone calls in which he told Xin he needed to pay Yutian between $5000 and $10,000, saying she has “a very, very good case” against him and “could go after you”.
The money, Pisasale said, was reimbursement for Yutian’s private investigation fees.
“She was so upset. You could just see her whole world had been destroyed,” he told the court.
“She was a beautiful person. She was a very caring person and she would have given her 100 per cent to this bloke.
“She was broke, she was in Australia and she had nowhere to turn.
“All he had to do was reimburse her and let her start again but he was so determined not do.””
Pisale, Li and McKenzie were all found guilty by a jury of extortion.
Section 415 of the Criminal Code (Qld) provides that:
(1) A person (the “demander”) who, without reasonable cause, makes a demand—
(a) with intent to—(i) gain a benefit for any person (whether or not the demander); or(ii) cause a detriment to any person other than the demander; and
(b) with a threat to cause a detriment to any person other than the demander;
commits a crime.
(2) It is immaterial that—
(a) the demand or threat is made in a way ordinarily used to inform the public rather than a particular person; or
(b) the threat does not specify the detriment to be caused; or
(c) the threat does not specify the person to whom the detriment is to be caused or specifies this in a general way.
(d) the detriment is to be caused by someone other than the demander.
Judge Brad Farr sentenced Pisale to 2 years imprisonment to be suspended after 12 months for the two counts of extortion.
Judge Farr sentenced Li to 15 months for each charge, partially suspended. She will serve seven months in prison and is likely to be deported following that sentence. McKenzie received 18 months’ jail suspended after serving nine months.
Paul Pisale’s fall from grace is now almost complete, although he does face further charges which will take their own course.
It will be interesting to see whether McKenzie remains a lawyer for very long.