Former AFL coach and player Dean Laidley has been granted bail after being arrested earlier this month for allegedly stalking a woman.
- A court heard Dean Laidley allegedly called a woman 43 times in one evening and threatened to ram her car
- Mr Laidley’s lawyer Phil Dunn QC told the court his client was suffering from long term mental health issues including gender dysphoria and substance abuse
- Several high-profile AFL members including Mark Williams, Denis Pagan and Guy McKenna lodged character references for Mr Laidley
Mr Laidley was arrested on May 2 over allegations of stalking as well as other charges.
The AFL Players Association and several high-profile names in the league, including Mark Williams and Brent Harvey, supplied character references for Mr Laidley in support of his application for bail in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.
The court heard Mr Laidley, 53, of Moonee Ponds, had been struggling with drug abuse for eight years and had a range of psychiatric issues, including gender dysphoria.
Mr Laidley, who coached North Melbourne after a playing career at the Kangaroos and West Coast, has been bailed to a rehabilitation centre for the next month.
Police informant Senior Constable James Maddock told the court the woman was worried about Mr Laidley being released into rehabilitation.
“The victim is in short petrified of the accused,” he said.
“She details in one of her statements she is exhausted by this and it’s having a significant impact. She’s fearful of doing ordinary duties like going for shopping.”
Magistrate Kieran Gilligan said Mr Laidley was being granted bail due to his lack of criminal history and the possibility of him being held on remand for years, if the matter went to trial.
Victoria’s legal system is experiencing significant delays due to COVID-19.
Lawyer says former coach hit ‘rock bottom’ last year
The court heard there was a string of incidents before Mr Laidley was arrested, including taking photos outside the woman’s house and verbal abuse.
In one incident last month, Mr Laidley allegedly called her 43 times in one evening.
In another incident, he allegedly threatened to ram her car.
The court heard Mr Laidley was found with a small quantity of methamphetamine when he was arrested.
Four police officers were suspended last week after photos taken of Mr Laidley in custody showing him dressed in women’s clothing were shared on social media.
Mr Laidley’s lawyer Phil Dunn QC said the release of the photos “devastated” Mr Laidley and his family.
Mr Dunn told the court his client had hit “rock bottom” last year.
“He was lonely and depressed, and he was using drugs,” Mr Dunn said.
“Mr Laidley is not a bad man. He’s a man that’s lost his way.
“He’s lived in a cocoon for a long time. He went into a cocoon at the age of 17 to play football. He lived in a bubble that had structures around him.
“As he eased out of the AFL system and had to stand on his own two feet, he’s had some problems adjusting.”
The AFL Players Association will financially support Mr Laidley’s stay in rehabilitation.
Among several high-profile AFL names who provided character references for Mr Laidley were his predecessor as North Melbourne coach Denis Pagan, former teammates Guy McKenna, Wayne Schwass and Brent Harvey and former Port Adelaide coach Mark Williams.
“The man who is here now is a very different person from people who knew him and knew him well,” Mr Dunn said.
Mr Laidley will appear in court again in June.