Fallen AFL legend Dean Laidley fronts court as Dani after undergoing gender transitioning – as she’s forced to write a letter of gratitude to arresting police despite her mugshot being leaked
- Ex Kangaroo was found with a quantity of the deadly drug ice in her possession
- Laidley must thank a police officer despite police leaking images of her
- She is now being represented by high profile criminal lawyer Rob Stary
- Troubled star accepted a four month diversion program due to expire in March
- Laidley could not be seen during the video hearing in Melbourne on Wednesday
Troubled AFL footy great Dean Laidley has been forced to write a letter of thanks to police despite allegations officers leaked photos of the former champ in custody.
Laidley, who has officially changed his name to Dani and is now referred to as Ms Laidley, appeared via videolink in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday where the revelations were aired.
Top criminal lawyer Rob Stary, who has previously represented underground figures Tony Mokbel, Carl Williams and acted on high profile terror cases, told the court his client had undergone ‘gender transitioning’ since his last appearance at court.
Dean Laidley makes a Maccas run after his release from jail in May.
A court sketch of former AFL player and coach Dean Laidley during a bail hearing at Melbourne Magistrates Court earlier this year
‘Dani Laidley, formerly Dean Laidley, has gone through a gender transitioning and it’s appropriate that I address her by her proper name, which is now Dani Laidley,’ Mr Stary advised.
Laidley had been found with a quantity of methamphetamine allegedly stashed in her bra in a prison cell – prompting the unusual second charge of possessing the drug within prison walls.
The court agreed to place Laidley on a diversion program, which allows first time offenders a chance to avoid convictions, on the provision she write a letter of thanks to the police officer who arrested her.
Laidley made national news in May when police leaked photos of her dressed as a woman while being held in custody.
Thirteen police officers and support staff were suspended or transferred to other duties following the scandal and several were charged.
The photographs showed Laidley wearing a wig and make-up and were shared on social media and published by some news outlets.
Nonetheless, Laidley agreed to write the letter.
If she does so and stays out of trouble over the next four months, the charges will be completely scrapped.
Similar diversion hearings have been done completely administratively during Victoria’s COVID-19 pandemic.
Such was the interest in Laidley’s case that the court decided to hold a video hearing, in which Laidley kept her camera switched off.
Mr Stary told the court his client had no objections with calling into the virtual hearing ‘given the circumstances’.
Magistrate Jack Vandersteen told Laidley she was granted the chance at diversion due to his lack of prior offending, the significant mental treatment she had undergone since her arrest and her obvious remorse.
‘Ms Laidley is contrite, Ms Laidley is well supported in the community,’ he said.
The magistrate also took into account the fierce public attention Laidley had endured since his very public arrest in May in which photographs of her dressed in women’s clothing were leaked by police.
‘I accept that there has been a very significant extra-curial (punishment) – matters that have applied to Ms Laidley as a result of the release of the photograph and the significant media interest,’ Mr Vandersteen said.
The move was unsurprisingly supported by police.
Court heard AFL legend Dean Laidley must write a letter of thanks to police
Laidley’s lawyer says the former AFL coach now identifies as a woman
Mr Vandersteen said it was important that Laidley thank the officer who charged her.
‘I think it is important that the informant is thanked because if it wasn’t for the informant’s consent input this application would not have been able to proceed,’ he said.
At the time, then deputy commissioner Shane Patton described the leaking of Laidley’s photos as ‘appalling’ and ‘unacceptable’.
Mr Patton apologised on behalf of the force, saying, ‘clearly, we have let down that person’.
‘We’ve breached their privacy and I do apologise on behalf of Victoria police,’ he said.
Laidley faces a series of other charges related to allegations of stalking and related intervention order breaches.
She will return to court next month.
The court was previously told Laidley was at no risk to the public and ought to be released on bail