Jailed MP Ian Macdonald hopeful appeal will set him free
CORRUPT politician Ian Macdonald has spoken from jail for the first time, revealing he is "hopeful" of walking free when an appeal against his conviction is heard next month.
With cell neighbours Ron Medich, who ordered Michael McGurk's murder, and Vincent Stanford, who killed teacher Stephanie Scott, Macdonald said he was coping with incarceration by writing his own inmate's diary and his political memoirs.
"I miss my family and friends and have turned to writing as a means of coping with jail life," the former state Labor cabinet minister told News Corp Australia via his wife Anita Gylseth.
"My main concern is that I am not able to help my wife and family through this difficult period."
Macdonald, 69, is serving 10 years in Lithgow jail, with a non-parole period of seven years, after being found guilty by a jury of misconduct in public office in March last year for awarding a training coal mine licence in the Hunter Valley to ex-union boss John Maitland.
Sentencing judge Christine Adamson described the MP as "devious", "corrosive" with a "misplaced sense of entitlement" and said he had betrayed the people of NSW by squandering the state's resources to benefit a mate.
"Mr Macdonald was guilty of gross breaches of the trust that Parliament had placed in him. His offending is extremely serious," the judge said.
But Macdonald will argue in the Court of Criminal Appeal on November 13 and 14 his criminal conviction was a miscarriage of justice, that the judge misdirected the jury and the jury's verdict cannot be supported on the evidence. He claims his sentence was "manifestly excessive and should be reduced".
He will also claim that the standard of behaviour expected of ministers was set too low when he was found guilty.
"I am hopeful that justice will be served. I only acted in the public interest at all times. I acted on the advice of my department and went ahead with their approved position," Macdonald said.
He claims he did not personally benefit from the mining licence and the state would have collected royalties.
"There was no cost to the state and, in fact, the state would have benefited. I despair the idea that over a 1000 jobs and millions of dollars in royalties to the state have been lost because of the decision of the government to rescind the licence."
Whatever the outcome of the appeal, Macdonald faces a further criminal trial alongside jailed politician Eddie Obeid when ICAC's Operation Jasper comes to court in March next year over the Mount Penny mining licence in the Bylong Valley.
Ms Gylseth (right) said she is selling the family home in the Blue Mountains to pay for the appeal and has established a successful cleaning business in the area. She said her husband had missed his daughter's wedding and the birth of his first grandchild while in jail.
"He's lost a substantial amount of weight, about 15kg. He's got a massive hernia that should have been operated on, that sits high off his belly. They say it's a 90-day wait for the operation. I think it is well over 130 days now," Ms Gylseth said.
"He's chosen solitary confinement, not that he wants to be by himself - the confinement is hideous. It does your head in. But it's safer."
Macdonald was threatened in jail but was finding writing his own story of life therapeutic, she said.
"It's self-deprecating, it's quite funny and he's enjoying it. It's given his mind something to focus on," Ms Gylseth said.
Her trust in the judicial system has been severely tested but she maintains a belief that justice will be served: "I have confidence in the judicial system."
Mrs Gylseth has a 28-year-old daughter who requires full time care and she works six days a week on her cleaning business.
"If the appeal fails I will be in a caravan in Yamba, which won't be too shabby anyway. I don't have a choice. Because if we don't win, my life's nothing anyway."
She claims she lost many friends through the Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation and subsequent trial.
"That was a grieving process that lasted about eight months," she said.
Macdonald has been stripped of his parliamentary pension and his ALP membership was terminated in 2013 for bringing the party into disrepute.