News National Ex-AFL coach Dean Laidley released to rehab clinic

Ex-AFL coach Dean Laidley released to rehab clinic

Laidley has been released on bail to attend an inpatient rehab facility after he was accused of stalking a woman. Photo: AAP
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Former AFL player and coach Dean Laidley has been bailed to a residential rehabilitation facility and says he is looking forward to the help he needs.

The ex-West Coast and North Melbourne player had been behind bars since May 2, when he was arrested over accusations he had been stalking a woman.

Former teammates, coaches and club doctors have lined up with letters of reference for the 53-year-old, who is battling longstanding mental health issues.

Laidley is accused of stalking a woman, with whom he’s in a financial dispute over a property.

He phoned her 43 times on May 2, police told Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday.

It’s also alleged he contacted her body corporate asking for CCTV footage, which prosecutors argue was to stalk her.

Laidley’s barrister, Phil Dunn QC, said his client was fighting allegations he had been involved in aggressive confrontations with the woman at the apartment complex and suggested CCTV footage could be used as evidence that she was not telling the truth about their interactions.

He asked that Laidley be released into the care of a 24-hour residential rehabilitation clinic where he’ll receive treatment for longstanding issues including gender dysphoria and substance abuse.

“He’s not a bad man. He needs help and he’s prepared to accept this help,” Mr Dunn said.

Former AFL coaches Mark Williams, Guy McKenna and Denis Pagan wrote references for Laidley, as did his former North Melbourne teammates Brent Harvey and Wayne Schwass and ex-club president James Brayshaw.

Mr Dunn said Laidley had lived in a structured football bubble for 30 years and issues had crept to the surface since leaving the AFL.

“This man here now is a very different person to those who knew him and knew him well,” he said.

He said there were serious concerns for Laidley’s mental health.

Mr Dunn also referenced the leaking of photos of Laidley in custody. Four officers have been suspended and are expected to be charged.

The AFL Players Association will fund Laidley’s in-house care at the facility, which offers 24-hour supervision, drug testing and treatment.

An officer said police had concerns Laidley would offend if he was released.

He told the court Laidley had taken a number of photos of the property where the complainant lived, as well as asking for CCTV footage, and he had repeatedly called and sent her text messages.

After he was arrested, police found 0.3g of crystals in a plastic bag inside an adhesive bra Laidley was wearing, as well as loose crystals believed to be methamphetamine, the officer said.

Magistrate Kieran Gilligan agreed Laidley should be released to the 28-day rehabilitation program and a follow-up transitional program.