Salim guilty of abusing, suffocating ex

·4-min read

A NSW District jury found Salim Mehajer guilty of six counts of domestic violence on Wednesday.

The 36-year-old pleaded not guilty to the charges, which include four counts of common assault, intentionally choking a person without consent, and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The controversial former Auburn deputy mayor was charged with the offences two days before Christmas Day in 2020.

Following the almost three-week long trial, the jury took less than a day to come to their guilty verdicts on Wednesday afternoon.

Mehajer told the court he planned to lodge an appeal of the decision, but is restricted due to being on remand.

Judge James Bennett told Mehajer he would have “ample opportunity” to prepare himself for an appeal.

Downing Centre Court
Salim Mehajer has been found guilty of domestic abuse against his former partner. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Bianca De Marchi

Mehajer wore prison greens over a white T-shirt as he represented himself in the trial.

Crown prosecutor Ken Gilson told the jury Mr Mehajer had been “charming and nice” when he first met the victim in 2017.

But throughout the relationship, the jury found Mehajer had “bouts or episodes of anger” where he would threaten to harm his girlfriend, her family, or himself.

The victim went to the police in December 2020 and said she had been subjected to four assaults which had occurred over two years.

During one of the assaults, the jury was told Mehajer punched his girlfriend in the head 10 times during a heated argument in his car, after telling her she couldn’t wear a piece of jewellery.

The court heard that in that same month, the woman was lying on a bed in his Lidcombe home and looking at her phone when the 36-year-old accused her of letting people into his house to steal his belongings.

Mehajer knelt on top of his partner and grabbed her hand so hard the phone screen cracked and cut her. He then went through her phone.

The jury was told Mehajer accused his girlfriend of searching for her ex-boyfriend on Instagram and trying to meet up with him.

Mehajer became enraged and dragged his girlfriend from the lounge room to the laundry and pinned her against the wall.

He intimidated her by telling her he would kill her, and threatened to murder her mum by “putting a bullet in her head”.

“Listen here, you little s***, if you ever go to the police, I’ll get you and I’ll get your mum,” the court heard he told her.

Downing Centre Court
The 36-year-old threatened to kill his partner and her mother. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De Marchi

The former politician told his girlfriend he would get someone else to follow through on his threats if he went to jail.

The jury was told he inflicted “a dead arm” on the woman in October 2020 when he threw something at her during an argument about water bottles in the fridge.

Mr Gilson said Mehajer committed “the most serious of the offences” when he intentionally suffocated the woman until she lost consciousness.

He was yelling and “calling her useless” when he followed her into the bathroom, the court heard.

The jury was told she began screaming and the 36-year-old held his hand over her mouth and nose until she passed out.

Mr Gilson said the woman woke to find herself lying on the ground and her boyfriend banging his head on the toilet bowl.

“He put his hands over my mouth and nose and kept threatening to beat me to death and I couldn’t breathe,” she wrote in a text to a friend.

Mehajer asked the jury to be “patient with him” during his opening address, as he represented himself.

He told the jury the problems in the relationship “was not fuelled by any drugs or any alcohol”, but it didn’t mean it was “perfect”.

“Like most relationships, it had its ups and downs but I want to stress to you that there were never any acts of violence,” Mehajer said.

Mr Mehajer represented himself in the lengthy trial. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Joel Carrett

Mehajer questioned his former girlfriend’s motivation for making the allegations against him, telling the jury she went to police after the pair were charged with fraud. Those charges have been dropped.

“What is suggested is that the complainant has taken a dramatic turn in a desperate attempt … to have the fraud charges against her dropped,” he said.

Mr Mehajer said the evidence would show his ex-girlfriend “started to calculate an attack” against him.

“When the complainant began to lie, it caught like a wildfire,” he told the jury.

“The lie just grew larger and larger.”

The former local politician claimed the allegations of domestic violence contained a “pattern of lies” and could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

“These bizarre allegations are just not true,” he said.

But the jury rejected Mehajer’s claims and sided with the Crown, finding him guilty of domestic violence against his former partner.

He will return to court in June for sentence.