Salim Mehajer didn’t intend to rig Auburn election, court hears

He apologised to his sister, his family and law enforcement and said he never thought about getting votes when he ran for local council. Instead, his aim was to gain “love within the community”.

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“I was happy to be a candidate – if I got in, it was a bonus,” Mehajer said.

“Even if I didn’t have [the] intention, it’s happened, it’s guilty.

“Being part of this, it was a big boy’s game. It wasn’t for children, and that’s what we were … we were naive and silly.”

Mehajer said he was “shattered” that he had dragged his sister into what he had done, and outlined plans to start a family and complete a Juris Doctor law degree at the University of Technology Sydney.

The court heard a psychiatrist had recently diagnosed Mehajer with bipolar disorder, and his “manic” behaviour could have been a factor in his 2012 offending.

Under cross-examination from Commonwealth prosecutor Jeremy Rapke, QC, Mehajer said his involvement in some of the charges he was convicted of was “clear cut” but some of them “I didn’t do”.

Salim Mehajer's sister Fatima Mehajer arrives at court.

Salim Mehajer’s sister Fatima Mehajer arrives at court.

Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

Mr Rapke said Mehajer had “betrayed the community” by rigging the election, and had sought in his evidence to minimise his role.

“In our submission, Mr Mehajer dissembled during his evidence and frankly at points committed perjury,” Mr Rapke said.

“When one looks at all the steps he took, one can’t help but conclude he was serious in his attempts to get on the council.”

He called for Mehajer to face an “immediate custodial sentence”.

Mehajer’s barrister Carolyn Davenport, SC, said her client appeared to have “continued on a path of lawlessness”, but that was mainly because he was suffering from an undiagnosed and untreated mental illness.

“One would almost think he’s sought out notoriety … that’s consistent with the diagnosis that’s been made,” Ms Davenport said.

She said any period of incarceration would be “extremely onerous” for Mehajer because of his illness and his notoriety within the prison system.

The court heard Fatima Mehajer – who pleaded guilty last year to 77 counts of giving false or misleading information to the AEC – has young children to care for and is unlikely to face a custodial sentence.

The pair will be sentenced on June 22.

Georgina Mitchell

Georgina Mitchell is a reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.

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