Joseph Palermo faced Lismore District Court today to apply for bail as he awaits his appeal.
Joseph Palermo faced Lismore District Court today to apply for bail as he awaits his appeal. Crystal Spencer

Bomb attack conviction might have been in error, court hears

A MAN convicted of trying to blow up his former landlord's fish and chip shop has been granted bail.

Joseph Palermo, 40, appeared via video link from Grafton Correctional Centre before Lismore District Court to apply for bail as he awaits his conviction appeal.

Palermo was last month convicted by Magistrate Lisa Stapleton of two counts of attempting to intentionally damage property by fire or explosive and sentenced to two year's prison with a non-parole period of 18 months.

This was after she acquitted him of the more serious charges of dishonestly, with a view to a gain, damaging property by fire.

The charges related to two attempts to damage the Tweed Heads fish and chip restaurant, then known as Menniti Seafoods in January, 2014.

In last month's hearing, the court heard Palermo first left a sparkler bomb and lighter with an opened, overturned gas bottle outside the fish and chip shop early on January 7, 2014 and rammed a car containing a napalm-like substance through the shop's glass windows four days later.

Defence solicitor Hugh van Dugteren argued the conviction of the lesser "attempt" charges was outside of Ms Stapleton's jurisdiction.

Mr van Dugteren said the legislation which allows a magistrate to find a defendant guilty of an "attempt" was not valid in the Local Court if that lesser charge was not listed on a Court Attendance Notice.

"What the applicant is saying is magistrates in the Local Court do not have the same power as judges in the District Court," Mr van Dugteren said.

Mr van Dugteren said Magistrate Michael Dakin raised this issue early on.

"The prosecution were put on notice," he said.

"In the Local Court ... they don't have the power to do what the learned Magistrate did at the conclusion of Mr Palermo's hearing.

"He's been found guilty of an offence he was not charged of."

Judge Laura Wells said the offences, committed in the context of "what might be regarded as something of a campaign of terror by the applicant against the complainant", were "exceptionally serious".

She noted an ongoing commercial dispute against the complainant, Luciano Menneti, in the Supreme Court.

Judge Wells said Mr van Dugteren's argument was strong, and said Palermo - since being released from custody over a related Queensland offence - had not attempted to contact or interfere with witnesses in this case.

"A strict reading would indicate the magistrate did operate outside her jurisdiction," Judge Wells said.

She said the Crown did, however make a strong case that there was "no strict requirement" for the alternate charges to have been listed on Palermo's Court Attendance Notice.

Pending his conviction appeal and a $5000 surety, Palermo was released on strict bail to reside at a Pacific Pines address with his wife and three children.

Palermo could be seen weeping as Judge Wells handed down this decision.

He will be prohibited from leaving his home between 6pm and 6am unless accompanied by his wife and was ordered to surrender his passport and not enter any international point of departure.

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