‘Darkest periods of my life’: Disgraced Pisasale apologises

 

A SOMBRE Paul Pisasale apologised to the people of Ipswich for his corrupt conduct as he faced court on Thursday.

The disgraced former mayor - once dubbed "Mr Ipswich" - still looked at home speaking from a podium, except this time the stage was the dock of the Ipswich District Court.

Pisasale blamed his ego for taking hold as he tried to steer Ipswich to a brighter future, but he maintained he was not a bad person.

A court suppression order was lifted on Thursday when Pisasale, 69, pleaded guilty to more than 30 charges including disobedience to statute law when in public office; official corruption involving 25 cases of fraud; two charges of indecent sexual assault that he committed on a young woman in his mayoral office; and unlawful possession of restricted drugs.

Crown prosecutor Sarah Farnden withdrew one indictment which was replaced by a charge of official corruption involving 25 frauds.

Pisasale's pleas involved corruptly receiving benefits between October 2016 and June 2017 in a property development at 285-373 Warwick Road at Yamanto; and two counts of indecent sexual assault of a woman in the mayoral office of Ipswich City Council on December 9, 2016.

Lisa Pisasale, Paul Pisasale’s daughter leaving Ipswich Court. Photographer: Liam Kidston.
Lisa Pisasale, Paul Pisasale’s daughter leaving Ipswich Court. Photographer: Liam Kidston.


Pisasale's daughter Lisa sat near her father in the public gallery, with the pair not exchanging glances until the courtroom was later in the process of being closed to hear further confidential legal argument. The pair then exchanged smiles and gestures.

Ms Farnden said Pisasale's official corruption was detected through interception of his phone calls in an investigation by the Crime and Corruption Commission.

She said his detected offences occurred over five years from July 2102.

Ms Farnden said the ongoing offences revealed a time of systematic corruption within Ipswich City Council that "undermines all the good things" being done for the Ipswich community.

Judge Dennis Lynch QC agreed when defence barrister David Jones requested that Pisasale be allowed to read his personally written letter of apology.

Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale talks to media at St Andrew's Private Hospital to announce his resignation as mayor, shortly before the true extent of his corruption began to come to light.
Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale talks to media at St Andrew's Private Hospital to announce his resignation as mayor, shortly before the true extent of his corruption began to come to light.


Pisasale started by noting, "the man I was, the man I became, and the man I am today".

He said his role as mayor with a vision to turn Ipswich into a first-class city when first elected in 2004 became a journey of success, before turning into one of obsession, self-absorption and lack of judgment, steadily becoming "the darkest periods of my life".

He said the profile of Ipswich grew and grew, and he wanted to tell the world, and with influential people seeking him out, "my ego took over."

"My behaviour was out of control now and people around me tried to tell me but I would not listen," a sombre Pisasale said.

"My life was a blur and I failed everyone.

"I take full responsibility."

"I apologise to my wife, to my children who mean so much to me.

Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale announces the purchase of a large part of the mall by the council back in 2009.
Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale announces the purchase of a large part of the mall by the council back in 2009.


"To my staff, particularly those I caused so much pain.

"To the people of Ipswich I'm so sorry I let you down."

Pisasale said the past months spent inside the jail at Wolston had been very difficult for him. He revealed he spent time in self-reflection and realised that his busy life was one of not stopping to recharge.

"I'm not a bad person, I made some bad decisions," he said.

"I'm so sorry to all."

Pisasale said he was a person who lost his way and when eventually released from jail would begin trying to make amends to family and the people he let down, having now "reconnected with the creator".

"I accept full responsibility your honour and apologise to everyone I hurt along the way."

Judge Lynch closed the court for further confidential submissions on some aspects of the case.

He will sentence Pisasale next Wednesday afternoon.

Judge Lynch agreed to allow a television camera in the courtroom to film the delivery of his judgment because of strong community interest.