Corrupt and ailing ex-mayor now voices doubt over guilty plea

The man known as Mr Ipswich has used a developer’s corruption committal hearing to cast doubt on his own convictions, claiming he only pleaded guilty to offences in public office to end the ordeal.

Nov 16, 2021, updated Nov 16, 2021
Former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale.

Former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale.

Former Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale questioned his conviction while giving evidence against Melbourne property developer Christopher Pinzone in a Queensland court on Tuesday.

Pinzone is facing a committal hearing in Brisbane Magistrates Court, charged with corruptly giving, or offering to give, benefits to a public officer.

The developer is accused of corrupt dealings with Pisasale including offering escort services and cash bonuses in exchange for support for a proposed development in the Ipswich suburb of Yamanto.

It’s alleged the offers occurred between October 2016 and June 2017.

Prosecutor Sarah Farnden questioned Pisasale about his dealings with Pinzone and the former politician’s admissions of corruption at his separate trial in 2020.

Pisasale is serving seven-and-a-half years’ imprisonment for dozens of offences stemming from his time in office.

These include fraud, official corruption, accepting a secret commission, perjury, unlawful drug possession and two counts of sexual assault.

He will be eligible for parole in October 2022.

The frail former politician told the court he suffers from multiple sclerosis and cast doubt on his conviction.

While he conceded to pleading guilty he said he did not necessarily accept his conviction.

“I did plead guilty,” Pisasale told the court.

“I still don’t know whether I agreed with it.

“I had legal advice to fight, but I did not want to fight. I’d had enough. I was tired.”

Pisasale told the court he had been suffering from MS, a chronic disease which attacks the brain and spinal cord, and had memory issues.

“My health was in a terrible state, my family was in a terrible state,” he said.

“I wasn’t well and I just wanted it all over with.

“Can I say one thing? I would never do anything to hurt my city.”

Pisasale admitted knowing Pinzone and helping to push the Yamanto development, insisting it was part of his responsibilities as mayor.

“Yes, I championed the development,” Pisasale said.

“I looked up the act and a mayor is supposed to champion developments, and I did champion the development.

“I never asked the planners to do anything illegal.”

However, Pisasale had been offered a percentage of profits from the Yamanto development, the court was told.

He also received complimentary massages and escort services during his dealings with Pinzone.

The hearing before magistrate Belinda Merrin continues.

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