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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Salim Mehajer’s call to sister about DV allegations revealed in court documents

After having domestic violence and choking allegations levelled at him, Salim Mehajer told his sister in a phone call: “whatever I did … I swear to God, I did out of spite”, court documents reveal.

Mr Mehajer, 36, last week lost a desperate bid for freedom when the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeal, took just minutes to deny his bail application.

The former Auburn deputy mayor is scheduled to later this month face a three-week District Court trial over a string of serious domestic violence allegations.

He has pleaded not guilty to seven charges – consisting of four counts of common assault and one count each of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, intimidation and intentionally suffocating a victim with recklessness.

Mr Mehajer has endured a rollercoaster of legal proceedings over the last several months and argued last week he should be allowed out on bail so he can prepare for his trial, where he is expected to represent himself, after being denied Legal Aid funding.

Mr Mehajer remains in prison on remand at Mid North Coast Correctional Facility in Kempsey, with the court hearing he was being kept in protective custody.

Downing Centre Court
Camera IconSalim Mehajer was denied bail by the Court of Appeal. NCA NewsWire/Bianca De Marchi. Credit: News Corp Australia

The Court of Appeal on Friday published its reasons for knocking back Mr Mehajer’s bail bid, with Justice Peter Garling in his judgment describing the crown case against him as being: “a reasonably strong one”.

Mr Mehajer was charged with the domestic violence offences on December 23, 2020.

Four days later, the court heard, Mr Mehajer’s sister sent his former partner a text saying that the ex-politician had said “he never did anything wrong” and that he wanted her to withdraw the charges.

Justice Garling said that on that same day, during a telephone call, Mr Mehajer said to his sister: “But when I’m at (sic) good terms with her. I never do anything wrong. Never. But whatever I did, whatever I did … I swear to God, I did out of spite.”

Camera IconSalim Mehajer is expected to face trial on domestic violence allegations later this month. NCA NewsWire/Joel Carrett. Credit: News Corp Australia

Mr Mehajer is eligible for parole after he was in April 2021 jailed on unrelated charges of perverting the course of justice and making a false statement under oath.

Justice Garling wrote in his judgement Mr Mehajer was first eligible to be released in January but remains in prison because he is bail refused over allegations that he committed domestic violence offences against his ex-partner Melissa Tysoe.

He was earlier this year granted bail by the NSW District Court, only for the Director of Public Prosecutions to make a successful detention application in the NSW Supreme Court.

He sought to overturn that decision in the Court of Appeal, however the panel of Justices Garling, Robert Beech-Jones and Dina Yehia last week took 16 minutes to dismiss his bid for freedom.

Justice Garling wrote in his judgment that Mr Mehajer argued for his freedom on the ground that the case would rest on electronic material, which he could not study from prison.

He also said he needed to be freed to replace a SIM card, which he had given to his alleged victim when he was taken into custody in November 2020.

Mr Mehajer argued he needed the SIM card to reach out to his friends and supporters so he could raise money for his legal fees and to save his home from repossession.

But Justice Garling said he was sceptical about Mr Mehajer’s claims given his supporters were well known to him and that he has was seeking Legal Aid funding.

“No doubt the people he wishes to contact to seek financial assistance are known to him,” Justice Garling said.

He also said Mr Mehajer’s defence case was that none of the alleged offences had occurred and that he did not need access to extensive documents or electronic material.

“There is nothing about the applicant’s need for his mobile telephone or SIM card which supports a grant of bail,” Justice Garling said in his judgment.

Justice Garling added: “In my view, the applicant has not shown cause as to why his detention is not justified.

“In short, the Crown case is a reasonably strong one and the period of his detention is very short and will occur concurrently with serving an existing sentence of imprisonment.

“As well, the applicant advanced no satisfactory reason as to why he needs to be released from custody to adequately prepare his defence of the domestic violence charges nor the other charges he faces.”

Mr Mehajer will return to court next week.

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