SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 26: Salim Mehajer arrives to Downing Centre Local court on April 26, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Munoz/Fairfax Media) Photo: Daniel MunozThe controversial former deputy mayor of Auburn council Salim Mehajer has pleaded not guilty to assaulting a taxi driver outside The Star casino and assaulting TV news reporter Laura Banks hours later.
Mr Mehajer’s lawyer Mahmoud??? Abbas entered pleas of not guilty on his client’s behalf in the Downing Centre Local Court on Wednesday.
Outside the court Mr Mehajer declined to comment but Mr Abbas said his client “is entitled to the presumption of innocence”.
Mr Mehajer allegedly assaulted taxi driver Nazir??? Syed??? causing actual bodily harm by throwing an EFTPOS machine at his face between 4.30am and 4.45am on Sunday, April 2.
Police said the 38-year-old driver received an injury to the nose.
Mr Mehajer also pleaded not guilty to larceny. He is alleged to have stolen Mr Syed’s black iPhone 7, worth about $1500.
He further pleaded not guilty to intentionally destroying another iPhone 7 belonging to Chiara??? Lisciotto.
Mr Mehajer was arrested at 5.10am at the intersection of William and Bourke streets in Darlinghurst, and taken to Sydney City police station on Day Street in Sydney’s CBD.
Mr Mehajer, 30, walked out of the police station shortly after midday, charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and larceny.
But his exit from the police station didn’t go to plan. With his phone clasped to his ear, Mr Mehajer tried to make a swift departure, jumping into a waiting taxi, which had been called to collect him.
However, the taxi driver aborted the fare, amid an assembling media scrum.
Mr Mehajer was then ordered out of the taxi by a police officer.
A short time later, he was collected from the police station by a friend driving a white Porsche.
As Mr Mehajer got in the driver’s seat of the Porsche, Seven News reporter Laura Banks stuck a microphone in the car, preventing him from closing the door.
Police allege Mr Mehajer used the driver’s door of the car to assault Ms Banks, causing an injury to her hand, before driving away.
He was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm in relation to that incident.
He will reappear in court on June 9.
The alleged incidents are Mr Mehajer’s latest brush with the law, after he was catapulted into the public sphere with his lavish wedding to his since-estranged wife, Aysha, in August 2015.
The ceremony, which featured a fleet of helicopters, a cavalcade of luxury sports cars, a jet flyover and bikies lining the street, shut down Frances Street in Lidcombe.
It resulted in Mr Mehajer being fined $220 by his own council for failing to get the proper authorisation to close the street.
Last week, a court found Mr Mehajer gave “implausible evidence” and swore a false affidavit as he attempted to avoid paying $25,000 to a cleaner for work done in a western Sydney apartment block.
He was ordered to pay Anping Yan the outstanding debt as well as costs and interest after the cleaner successfully sued him.
He is also charged with electoral fraud, related to the alleged rigging of the 2012 Auburn City Council ballot.
His sister Fatima Mehajer has also been charged with a string of similar offences. The pair are due in court on those charges next month.
In January 2016, Mr Mehajer was suspended from Auburn council for four months for failing to disclose his financial interest in a property when voting on changes that added $1 million to its value.
Two weeks later, the entire Auburn council elected body was sacked by then-local government minister Paul Toole, who ordered a public inquiry into the council.