A NSW crown prosecutor says Salim Mehajer is a flight risk if allowed bail (file).Controversial property developer Salim Mehajer has been granted bail despite a Sydney court hearing he could try to flee the country – and a suggestion that there was a plane waiting for him in Queensland.
The 31-year-old was successful on his fourth attempt on Thursday in the NSW Supreme Court, on condition of a $200,000 surety.
Justice Desmond Fagan said the former Auburn deputy mayor was “his own worst enemy” and his behaviour had been “extremely erratic”, but gave Mehajer strict conditions for his release.
Mehajer, who has been in custody since January, will have to report to Bankstown police station twice daily, not leave the state of NSW and not go within 500 metres of Sydney airport.
Justice Fagan suggested Mehajer’s history showed a “snowballing of idiocy”, to which prosecutors agreed, but said the Crown had an unduly pessimistic and alarmist view of him based on his ability to “talk himself up”.
Mehajer, who appeared in court via video link, is facing multiple charges including a fresh allegation he perverted the course of justice by providing fraudulent letters in a bail application at Burwood Local Court earlier in March.
The former Auburn deputy mayor said he would lose his job as manager of a building in Lidcombe if not released from jail, but the owners of the building refuted his claim.
Mehajer, who was recently declared bankrupt, is already facing an allegation of perverting the course of justice by staging a car accident on his way to face assault charges.
He pleaded guilty to the assault offences in March, for throwing an EFTPOS machine at a taxi driver outside Sydney’s Star casino, and was placed on a good behaviour bond.
While waiting for Justice Fagan to return to the court to deliver his decision on Thursday, Mehajer held on to wooden beads and briefly held a piece of paper with “love you” written on it up to the AVL camera for his family to see.
Crown prosecutor Rossi Kotsis earlier on Thursday said Mehajer had family ties with Lebanon and a letter from an unknown source was intercepted before it reached him in jail stating there was a plane for him in Queensland.
Mehajer’s barrister, former District Court judge Michael Finnane, agreed with the diagnosis that Mehajer was his own worst enemy, but told the court the most serious case of perverting the course of justice had resulted in a two-year jail term.
Justice Fagan noted the 31-year-old probably wouldn’t stand trial on the perverting the course of justice charges until late 2019 and was unlikely to be sentenced to more than 18 months in jail if found guilty.
Mehajer won’t immediately be released from Silverwater jail as he’ll need to organise the surety and fill out the required paperwork.
He will face the NSW District Court on April 11 over an alleged electoral fraud plot with his younger sister, Fatima Mehajer.