Salim Mehajer Is One Of Australia's 'Most Hated'
A NSW court is deciding whether "one of the most hated people in Australia", Sydney businessman Salim Mehajer, should have his conviction quashed for assaulting a journalist.
The former Auburn deputy mayor was found guilty of assault after slamming a car door on the arm of Seven Network reporter Laura Banks as he tried to leave a Sydney police station in April 2017.
At a hearing in Downing Centre District Court on Wednesday, Judge Graham Turnbull said the media pack that pursued Mehajer meant the assault occurred under the most "remarkable, unique and disturbing" conditions for a man leaving a police station.
In a confrontation lasting 16 minutes, Mehajer tried to flee in a taxi, but when the driver refused to take him Banks and other journalists moved in for an interview.
The 32-year-old then climbed into a waiting Porsche and invited Ms Banks to "just jump in" before he slammed the door on her arm.
According to agreed facts, Ms Banks suffered bruising to her left hand when part of her body was "squashed between the pillar and passenger door".
Mehajer's lawyer, Zali Burrows, told the court her client had been suffering from an undiagnosed mental illness at the time which, coupled with "extensive media harassment", may have affected his behaviour.
"Mehajer is probably one of the most hated people in Australia and then he's hounded by a media pack," Ms Burrows.
"He was trapped ... there was no way out."
Prosecutor Michael Reville agreed Mehajer was "vulnerable" to media scrutiny and there'd been a "level of aggression" in the way Ms Banks had pursued him.
"The roller door opens to exit Mr Mehajer, Ms Banks rushed towards him," Mr Reville said.
But the conviction should stand, the prosecutor argued, as Mehajer had just been released on bail for a violent assault against a cab driver less than eight hours earlier.
Magistrate Joanne Keogh convicted Mehajer in February 2018, finding he was "reckless" when he closed the car door and took the risk that Ms Banks had not moved.
However, she said footage of the incident suggested he had acted with "remarkable forbearance" in the circumstances and appeared to be a victim of "predatory and appalling" behaviour by the media who "hunted like a pack".
Mehajer appeared in court on Wednesday via video link.
He's currently behind bars for trying to influence a local government election.
Judge Turnbull is expected to hand down his ruling on Friday.