Mehajer loses journo assault appeal

Salim Mehajer has lost his appeal against conviction for assaulting a journalist.
Salim Mehajer has lost his appeal against conviction for assaulting a journalist.

Controversial Sydney businessman Salim Mehajer has lost an appeal against a conviction for assaulting a journalist.

The former Auburn deputy mayor, who is serving time for electoral fraud, was convicted without penalty for 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.

Despite the extenuating circumstances, 32-year-old Mehajer had been "reckless" in not checking if Banks was beside the car, Judge Graham Turnbull said at Downing Centre District Court on Friday when dismissing his appeal.

"He thought about the likelihood of hurting Ms Banks but ignored the risks," Judge Turnbull said.

"This was no accident."

Quoting the original decision, Judge Turnbull said Mehajer had been accosted by a media scrum which "hunted him like a pack" for 16 minutes as he tried to flee the station.

According to agreed facts, Mehajer had climbed into a taxi, but the driver refused to take him after Banks and another journalist told the cabbie he was being released on bail for assaulting another driver.

The judge criticised police for not doing more to defuse the situation and, instead, forcing Mehajer to leave the cab where reporters including Banks were "circling".

Banks had "goaded" the businessman and repeatedly "ridiculed and derided" him, "constantly laughing", Judge Turnbull said.

When a Porsche rolled up, Mehajer got into the driver's side and invited Banks to "just jump in".

Court documents state the reporter had stuck her hand holding a microphone into the car before he slammed the door, squashing her body between the door and pillar.

"He clearly did not confirm she was not still there when he closed the door," Judge Turnbull said on Friday.

"I have no difficulty in finding he was reckless to the injury which occurred."

Defence lawyer Zali Burrows had attempted to argue an email exchange between Banks and her client prior to the incident showed the pair had a "flirtatious", "goading" and "insulting" relationship.

However, Judge Turnbull dismissed the evidence, along with suggestions an undiagnosed mental illness had affected Mehajer's behaviour at the time.

Australian Associated Press