Mick Malthouse has opened up on Dean Laidley’s turmoil before the former AFL coach and player was arrested.
Two senior constables have been suspended so far over leaked pictures of Laidley inside a police station.
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The 53-year-old was photographed wearing a long blonde wig and a dress after his arrest outside a home in St Kilda on Saturday night.
Laidley is facing stalking and other charges, and remains in custody until May 11 after not applying for bail.
Malthouse coached Laidley at West Coast in 1990 and hired him as an assistant coach at Collingwood and Carlton.
The coaching legend has now opened up on what Laidley has been going through in recent years.
“I spoke to him on the phone a couple of times but then it just dried up. (I) Left messages, but there was nothing in return,” Malthouse told 3AW radio on Tuesday.
“He was quite ill there at one stage. I don’t know exactly what it was but he was in immense pain and I remember him saying that he was on these painkillers and it was quite debilitating.
“Of course he had issues with his son so he’s been through a hell of a lot.”
According to The Australian, Laidley’s son has “endured his share of legal troubles in recent years”.
The Herald Sun is reporting Laidley’s lawyer told a Melbourne court his client was suffering from a psychiatric illness after his arrest.
“The pressure that he was under both physically, mentally, at home with one of his children and the fact he was trying to make ends meet and he had this disease, I wouldn’t have thought that would have done the mind any good at all,” Malthouse said.
“As it grabs hold of you, coaching, it’s more relentless and it’s more demanding. You’ve got to have a really good partner, good family and an understanding family otherwise you’re trying to … please those at home, those at the football club, those in the media.
“You do get very isolated very quickly in coaching.”
Malthouse also addressed recent suggestions that the AFL should do more to support former coaches.
“They just absorb it, the family absorbs it and then something cracks, something gives way,” Malthouse said.
“I can categorically tell you the number of coaches that I know who have come in and gone out of the game, and I look at them and they age very, very quickly. They become old men quickly.”
Former Western Bulldogs and Richmond coach Terry Wallace says he is “seriously disturbed” by the trend of former coaches running into trouble, while Port Adelaide great Kane Cornes has called on the AFL to do more.
“The AFL needs to take some responsibility (as does the) the Coaches Association to make sure we are supporting these coaches who do lose their job in the industry, and there’s going to be more of them, to make sure that they are OK,” Cornes said on Footy Classified on Monday night.
Two officers stood down over Laidley photos
The first Victorian police officer accused of sharing the photos was suspended with pay on Monday, and is expected to be charged with accessing police information without authorisation.
The second officer was suspended on Tuesday and is likely to face the same charge, which carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison or $40,000 in fines.
Deputy Police Commissioner Shane Patton said on Monday that six police officers were sent the photos via WhatsApp and they could face charges if it's found they disseminated them further.
It is unclear whether the constable suspended on Tuesday is among the six officers.
The dissemination of the pictures of Laidley in the station's interview room was an “appalling” act, Mr Patton said.
Laidley played 151 AFL games from 1987-97 and was an inaugural player at West Coast before joining North in 1993.
He played 99 games at Arden St, including their 1996 premiership before he succeeded Denis Pagan as North Melbourne coach in 2003.
In 149 games, he led them to the finals three times before resigning during the 2009 season.
He then had assistant coaching roles at three AFL clubs until 2015 and is currently coach of Melbourne suburban club Maribyrnong Park.