Former operator of Menittis Fish n Chip, Joe Palermo, will have his previous conviction taken into account at alleged bombing trial.
Former operator of Menittis Fish n Chip, Joe Palermo, will have his previous conviction taken into account at alleged bombing trial. Crystal Spencer

Accused bomber: Court hears of malicious history

A MAGISTRATE has decided a man accused of trying to blow up a fish and chip shop should have a previous conviction taken into account.

Joseph Palermo, 40, of Pacific Pines in Queensland, has been facing a hearing into two charges of dishonestly, for financial gain, damaging property by fire for two incidents which allegedly took place in Tweed Heads on January 7 and 11, 2014.

Police prosecutor Gary Rowe raised a coincidence notice and tendency notice to Magistrate Lisa Stapleton before Byron Bay Local Court today.

Mr Rowe argued Mr Palermo's conviction for possessing a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence and unlawful stalking of Luciano Menniti in Queensland on January 17, 2014, indicated a tendency for a "state of mind of malice" toward Mr Menniti, the owner of the shop then known as Menniti's Seafood.

Mr Rowe said the attempted bombings could not rationally be considered coincidental, in light of the January 17 offences, which took place in Queensland.

He said the convictions, which landed Mr Palermo a custodial sentence, supported a circumstantial case that Mr Palermo was responsible for the Tweed Heads incidents.

The accused was previously operating the fish and chip shop but had been evicted by Mr Menniti.

"The common indicator is the ongoing dispute which has been escalated ... in relation to the totality of evidence," Mr Rowe said.

"You can have dissimilar acts (but) it's the underlying conduct... that lies at the heart of (the incidents)."

Defence lawyer Carl Edwards argued there was not a strong connection between the bombing incidents and the Queensland offences.

"There has to be some similarity," Mr Edwards said.

"It's a question of whether (the pieces) fit to make a meaningful picture".

Mr Edwards argued the prosecution had a "lack of strong direct or indirect evidence".    

Ms Stapleton said she was reasonably convinced the Queensland matter should be taken into account when considering Mr Palermo's state of mind of "dislike" toward Mr Menniti.

She also ruled it was "improbable that the events occurred coincidentally".

"The defendant pleaded guilty to an offence of malicious intent against Mr Menniti," Ms Stapleton said.

"The court could find that there is a similarity because Mr Menniti, being the proprietor of the premises, was the victim of these offences and he was the victim of an offence committed by the defendant just about a week later.

"There is no real dispute that he owns the shop and he was leasing it to (George) Xipolitas, but he was still the owner of the shop so damage to the shop is damage to him."

The court heard police found containers full of liquid, a takeaway container with "what appeared to be scrapings from a sparkler" inside and a carry bag containing what appeared to be wiring" at the River Terrace shop.

Police who executed a search warrant on Mr Palermo's home seized three computers, one of which had allegedly been, during its original setup, named "Joe's weapon".

On devices seized at the home, police allegedly found "bomb-making instructions" and surveillance-like photographs taken at the Tweed Heads shop.

Mr Edwards queried why NSW police halted investigations for some time, and didn't lay charges against Mr Palermo until December 5, 2016.

The court heard it was "not unusual" for investigations to be put on hold while a person of interest serves a custodial sentence interstate.

Mr Edwards objected to much of the Queensland Police interview with Mr Palermo being admitted as evidence.

He argued many of the hundreds of transcribed questions were not relevant, but Mr Rowe said information relating to the Tweed Heads matter was scattered throughout the interview.

Ms Stapleton ultimately accepted the entire interview as evidence.

She asked to view CCTV showing "two figures" moving outside the shop about 2am on January 7, 2014.

This is expected to be shown when the hearing continues at Tweed Heads Local Court tomorrow.