A Wollongong fisherman appealing a finding of guilt over his role in a major commercial fishing scam has been granted bail from prison after a judge accepted he needed to be at liberty to care for his disabled son.
Pasquale Brancatisano was convicted on more than 100 charges, fined $76,000 and jailed for at least two years in Port Kembla Local Court last November following a lengthy undercover investigation by NSW Fisheries into overfishing of eastern rock lobster off the Illawarra coastline.
The court heard Brancatisano was working for Unanderra business Lochiel South Pty Ltd as their head fisherman when he was recorded under-tagging (or failing to tag) his catch on multiple occasions over a 14-month period in a bid to skirt the legal quota applicable to lobster under NSW law.
In total, Brancatisano acquired 640kg of illegal lobster between February 2013 and April 2014, valued at $28,000.
The catch was then on-sold to clients including Seacliff Functions Pty Ltd, the parent company of the Lagoon and Seacliff restaurants.
Brancatisano was found guilty after a protracted hearing in the NSW Local Court and handed a two-year jail sentence.
He immediately lodged an appeal, but was denied appeals bail.
In Wollongong District Court on Friday, Brancatisano’s lawyers said the family member looking after his wheelchair-bound son was no longer able to cope with the physical requirements of the role given her own medical conditions.
Judge Haesler agreed to release Brancatisano, noting the appeal was unlikely to be heard until at least September and any flight risk could be mitigated by bail conditions.
Judge Haesler ordered Brancatisano live at an address in Campbelltown, report to police weekly and not enter any international points of departure or apply for a passport.
The court heard he already has a job lined up working on the railways.