Troubled AFL footy great Dean Laidley was already down and out when a woman he met on Tinder scored an inner city apartment off him free of charge.
That will be the likely defence, or explanation, Laidley carries into his next court appearance over allegations he stalked a woman so seriously that he threatened to run her over in his car.
Details of the ex-North Melbourne coach’s private life exploded into the mainstream last week after leaked images of him dressed as a woman while being interviewed by police went viral.
Dean Laidley makes a pit stop at a McDonald’s on the way to a rehab clinic in Geelong. He will spend 28 days there before returning to court over stalking allegations
A court sketch of former AFL player and coach Dean Laidley during a bail hearing at Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday
Dean Laidley hit Facebook in an urgent effort to offload the property he allegedly bought for a woman he is accused of stalking
After his court appearance on Monday, he made a quick pit stop at a McDonald’s drivethru while on his way to a Geelong rehabilitation clinic where he will spend the next 28 days before his next court appearance.
While Laidley is now making no secret of his battles with mental health, the court was told he ‘felt he had been used to buy an apartment’.
Outside the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Monday, Laidley’s barrister Philip Dunn, QC, said he still needed to work out exactly how his client would plead to the charges before him.
Police charged Laidley on May 2 with stalking and related intervention order breaches and threw him in jail.
At his bail hearing this week, Senior Constable James Maddock told the court that between April 4 and May 2, Laidley tried to contact his estranged girlfriend more than 100 times in phone calls, emails and text messages.
Laidley had allegedly repeatedly abused the woman, calling her a ‘sl*t’ and a ‘c*nt’ after she broke off their relationship but held onto an apartment he had purchased for her.
Police allege Laidley sent her a photo of himself with a belt around his neck and threatened self harm.
Outside court Laidley’s barrister said his client was ‘sad’ and ‘ashamed’ at where his life was at, while inside the court Mr Dunn painted a clear picture of a man who had arrived at the lowest point in his life.
He told the court Laidley and the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had been in a relationship some years ago after meeting on Tinder but it was done and dusted by 2018.
They hooked up again in November 2019 and rekindled their relationship.
The father-of-three had been separated from his wife for years and had been coaching at a suburban footy league in Melbourne’s north.
Laidley claimed the woman was already in a relationship when they started seeing each other again.
The woman told police on at least two separate occasions that when Laidley contacted her in November she thought he had hit rock bottom.
He was lonely, depressed and he was using drugs.
Former football coach Dean Laidley was picked up by police dressed as a woman with methylamphetamine inside a bra
Police leaked a mugshot of Dean Laidley after his arrest in Melbourne this month
What appears to be make-up is seen splattered around the eyes of Dean Laidley as he grabs a bite to eat at a McDonald’s on Monday night
When police arrested Laidley last week he allegedly had a small quantity of methamphetamine stashed in his bra.
The court heard that by January this year, Laidley had put up his own home up as collateral and bought his new flame an inner-city apartment, which she moved straight into.
‘Within six weeks of meeting him, they come to an arrangement where by he would buy her an apartment and she would be the tenant,’ Mr Dunn said.
‘She didn’t put in one cent. Within six weeks of meeting someone that she described as mentally unwell and at rock bottom, there was an arrangement whereby he would buy her an apartment.’
Senior Constable Maddock said the woman had claimed she was trying to help the troubled ex-footballer.
‘From what she’s disclosed is she felt the need to reach out and assist the accused to find his feet again,’ he said.
‘And the way of doing that was he buy her an apartment,’ Mr Dunn responded.
Police claim by February the woman had begun to distance herself from Laidley amid a ‘bombardment of constant emails and text messages’.
By March, Victoria was in the grip of the COVID-19 lockdown and Laidley had asked the bank to hold off on his repayments.
Dean Laidley has been described as living with gender dysmorphia, substance abuse and thoughts of self harm
The court was told Laidley was at no risk to the public and ought to be released on bail
Be the end of the month, Laidley claimed he received an email from the woman saying she aimed to cut him off completely and hang onto the apartment.
Mr Dunn said the email stated she didn’t want to have anymore contact with him and that he would be ‘out of her life in six months, 12 months or 18 months’.
It was at this time that Laidley allegedly sent a photo of himself to the woman with a threat of self harm.
Mr Dunn said his client had became suicidal.
Police and a Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team were deployed out of fear that he’d followed through with the threat.
He was given time off work.
Police placed an interim intervention on the increasingly unstable Laidley at the beginning of April.
On April 13 the woman contacted police again and asked that they not proceed with a full order against him.
Mr Dunn said the woman had told police his client had complied with the order, was struggling with his mental health and had acted ‘out of character’.
Two days later Laidley was looking to offload the apartment as soon as possible.
‘Need advice property lawyer for sale of apartment ASAP. Please message me,’ he posted on Facebook.
Mr Dunn told the court that the interim order still allowed Laidley to discuss the property with the woman.
Laidley employed a solicitor, who made contact with the woman through her own solicitor in an effort to sell the apartment she was living in.
Dean Laidley and his mum celebrated Christmas together last year. A woman claimed he was already ‘rock bottom’ by then and using drugs
On April 22 – about a week after the woman asked police to lay off Laidley – her solicitor informed his lawyer that she wanted to stay in the apartment that he had bought for her.
Furthermore, Mr Dunn said Laidley was told she wanted him to continue paying for it for at least the next six months.
In a document he tendered to the court, Mr Dunn said the woman’s solicitor stated that if Laidley rejected the offer and tried to sell the apartment, they’d call the police on him.
‘If your client rejects this counter offer and insists on refinancing and selling the home the police will be notified of his breaching on the intervention order,’ Laidley was told.
It was a document that Senior Constable Maddock had never seen before.
Mr Dunn said the pair continued to discuss the property all the way up until his arrest this month.
Police argued Laidley was using the apartment as a loophole to contact the woman and pressure her to start seeing him again.
Mr Dunn said Laidley had been trying to break free of the woman since at least April 4, when he admitted to police he had been in contact with the woman.
‘He said he felt he’d been used by her to buy her an apartment and put the finance up’, Mr Dunn said to the court.
‘He denied vehemently that he had been involved in any act of aggression or violence towards her.’
Mr Dunn said allegations he tried to obtain CCTV from the woman’s building complex was only done in an effort to prove he had not been violent or aggressive towards her.
‘You can understand that a defendant charged with matters that he didn’t commit … would try to get independent evidence to show the other person is a liar,’ he said to the court.
The matter will return to court in June.
Laidley began his AFL career with West Coast in 1987 before moving to North Melbourne, where he was a member of the 1996 premiership team. He later served as head coach of the club from 2003-09.