Controversial Sydney businessman Salim Mehajer has been refused bail because of his ‘arrogant disregard for the law’.
Former Sydney businessman, Salim Mehajer has consistently been in trouble with the law since his lavish wedding in 2015 which featured a fighter jet, four helicopters, a fleet of sports cars and a sea plane … and completely incensed Albany residents when he shut down a local street for the celebrations.
As a result, the calls for him to be sacked from his position on the local council came loud and clear and prompted the electoral commission to look more closely at how he was originally elected.
It was discovered that amongst other things, Mehajer and his family lodged in excess of 50 false votes in the NSW council election. Accordingly, he was found guilty earlier this year of 77 offences relating to electoral fraud – a conviction he immediately appealed.
He then made four bail applications within 10 weeks, all of which were refused.
Bail application refused
But in his most recent bail application, NSW Justice Davidson found that Mehajer’s behaviour while in custody is a clear indication that he is not prepared to abide by the law.
Since the last time he was refused bail in August, Mehajer has been found to have refused or failed a drug sample, unlawfully used a phone or fax, twice unlawfully delivered or received an article, twice disobeyed a direction, failed to comply with routine, avoided a routine and assaulted a prison officer.
“It was submitted on his behalf that an explanation for his custodial offences is the difficulty that he has had adjusting to custody, said Justice Davies.
“I do not accept that explanation.
“His [Mehajer’s] custodial record is considerably worse than most custodial records that I have seen in the bail lists, even for persons having unresolved drug addiction problems.”
The Judge’s decision also revealed that Mr Mehajer made a late attempt without his legal team’s knowledge to give Justice Davies new information after a bail hearing on 1 November.
Passed through the court’s bails registry, the material discussed Mehajer’s inability to get Legal Aid support among other things. He was declared bankrupt in May this year.
A long rap sheet
But Mehajer’s brush with the law doesn’t end there. He has been previously found guilty of assaulting a taxi driver and a media reporter and is currently facing several charges related to drug supply, and making false statements.
In 2017 former wife has taken out Apprehended Violence Order out against him, which he has also been charged with breaching. A former personal trainer also has an AVO against him, and his company has debts estimated at more than $90 million dollars, including money owned to the Australian Tax Office. Police also charged him with perverting the course of justice and conspiracy to defraud after he staged a car crash on his way to appear in court in October 2017. He has also been pursued in civil courts over tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid bills.
Being refused bail in New South Wales
Under the Bail Act 2013 (NSW), it is up to the bail authority to determine whether a defendant poses an unacceptable risk to the community if they are released on bail pending their court date.
A bail authority can be a police officer, a magistrate or a court. If police refuse a person bail at the police station, they must ensure that the person is brought before a court as soon as practicable for the court to determine bail.
The court is supposed to grant bail if any ‘unacceptable risk’ can be overcome by bail condition, and will refuse bail if the risk cannot be overcome.
What is unacceptable risk?
According to section 17 of the Bail Act, unacceptable risks that can be considered include the likelihood:
- That the defendant will fail to appear in court on their nominated date.
- That they will commit a serious offence while free on bail.
- That if they are released they will be a danger to the safety of individuals, victims or the community as a whole.
- That they will interfere with evidence or witnesses.
There are a number of different factors the court will take into consideration when deciding whether or not to grant bail.
- The background of the defendant,
- Any history they have of violence or of not complying with bail conditions, and
- The likelihood of them getting a custodial sentence if they are convicted.
In the case of Salim Mehajer, the Judge believed that Mehajer and his lawyers failed to: “allay concerns about reoffending or address the central issue – the prospects of Mehajer winning an appeal against his conviction for electoral fraud.”