Dean Laidley lived in an AFL bubble for 30 years, but has confronted longstanding mental health issues since leaving the game.
The 53-year-old former player and coach has been bailed to attend a residential rehabilitation facility, a week after being charged with stalking a woman.
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Teammates, coaches and club doctors lined up to support the ex-West Coast and North Melbourne player as he successfully sought bail on Monday.
Former 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.
However, his barrister Phil Dunn QC doesn't know whether Laidley registers all that support.
“All he knows is that he's in a bad place,” he told the bail hearing.
“He's obviously very sorry that it's all happened. What he wants to do is get some calm and peaceful time to sort himself out.”
Laidley's mental health had been low for some time as he struggled with gender dysmorphia, substance abuse and thoughts of self harm, he said.
He said Laidley had lived in a structured football bubble for 30 years and issues has 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,” Mr Dunn said.
The lawyer said Laidley was ashamed and wanted to become a better person. He and his family were devastated at the release of photos of him in custody wearing a dress and a blonde wig, he added.
Four officers have been suspended and are expected to be charged over what Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton labelled a serious breach of privacy.
Details emerges about Dean Laidley’s arrest
Laidley is facing accusations he stalked a woman over a financial dispute.
Mr Dunn told Melbourne Magistrates Court the woman acknowledged late last year Laidley was at “rock bottom”, but within weeks she was living in an apartment he owned.
He said Laidley paid the deposit and mortgage on the apartment, and had sought legal advice over his “onerous” financial position.
It's alleged he menaced and stalked the woman, calling her 43 times on May 2 before he was arrested.
He also allegedly took photos of her apartment building and contacted her body corporate asking for CCTV footage, which prosecutors argue was to stalk her.
After his arrested, police found 0.43g of crystals in a plastic bag inside an adhesive bra Laidley was wearing, as well as loose crystals believed to be methamphetamine, Senior Constable James Maddock told the hearing.
Laidley is not charged with drug offences.
Details of the former AFL player's arrest have been read to a Melbourne court. https://t.co/8oPBgiQppi— PerthNow (@perthnow) May 11, 2020
Mr Dunn 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 she was not telling the truth about their interactions.
Magistrate Kieran Gilligan agreed Laidley should be released to the 28-day rehabilitation program and a follow-up transitional program.
The AFL Players Association will fund Laidley's in-house care at the facility, which offers 24-hour supervision, drug testing and treatment.