News National Peter Slipper depressed, suicidal, court hears

Peter Slipper depressed, suicidal, court hears

Peter Slipper arrives at court at an earlier date
A court has been told it's up to parliament to decide if Peter Slipper breached his entitlements.
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Former Speaker Peter Slipper tried to end his life twice last year after the strain of legal proceedings took its toll on his mental health.

Mr Slipper appeared before the ACT Magistrates Court on Wednesday as his lawyers sought to have fraud charges against him dismissed on mental illness grounds.

Psychiatrist Christopher Martin has treated Mr Slipper since May 2013 and diagnosed him with a major depressive disorder.

Dr Martin told the court his patient had made two suicide attempts last year and was “functionally more or less disabled”.

He’s being treated with anti-depressants and anti-psychotic medication.

Mr Slipper had been admitted to a mental health facility on five occasions including in May, November and December last year.

He was released as an outpatient as recently as June 10.

“He has a sense of no way out,” Dr Martin told the court via video link from Queensland.

Mr Slipper, 64, has experienced alcohol abuse and was drinking up to two bottles of wine per night.

He is also experiencing marital issues.

His wife has moved from their Sunshine Coast home to Toowoomba and they are effectively separated, Dr Martin said.

There are also financial problems due to his unemployment since he lost his seat of Fisher at the federal election last September.

Mr Slipper is a former Queensland Nationals and Liberal MP, and had served in parliament for two decades.

He has pleaded not guilty to three criminal charges relating to dishonest use of a taxpayer-funded Cabcharge card for $1000 worth of trips to wineries near Canberra in 2010, before he became Speaker.

The prosecution alleges Mr Slipper’s travel on the three days in question was for personal, not parliamentary purposes.

Dr Martin said if the trial proceeds it will worsen Mr Slipper’s symptoms such as increased anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

Mr Slipper had a strong sense of worthlessness and hopelessness and a preoccupation with suicidal ideas.

“He feels as though he’s a worthless human being,” Dr Martin said.

“He has brought shame and humiliation on himself and his family. His fall from grace has made him an object of public ridicule.”

The court was told Mr Slipper had become completely reclusive and saw himself as a social pariah.

As a result, he dreaded social interaction and would not eat meals with other patients at the mental health facility.

Mr Slipper’s arm is in a cast, underneath his suit jacket and he has been quiet during the hearing.

The hearing before Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker continues.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78