Not guilty plea: Hazem El Masri, centre, arrives at court. Photo: Peter Rae Not guilty plea: Hazem El Masri arrives at Bankstown Local Court. Photo: Peter Rae
The lawyer for former NRL star Hazem El Masri has used a brief court appearance to launch a scathing attack on his client’s alleged domestic violence victim, describing her as “a compulsive liar” with a history of making “hysterical false accusations”.
In an attack, which the magistrate suggested was delivered for the benefit of the watching media, lawyer Chris Murphy said the assault allegations against El Masri by his wife Douah El-Cherif were the result of a “prank call to police”.
The former Bulldogs star was charged on Monday night with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and common assault in relation to an alleged incident at his home about 7.30pm.
“She is a liar, she made it up,” Mr Murphy said in Bankstown Local Court as his 39-year-old client looked on from the gallery of the packed courtroom.
“The incident that occurred was recorded on a mobile phone by the defendant. The alleged victim says that her call to police was a prank call and says that she had to go to police or she’d get fined.”
He said that Ms El-Cherif had given police different explanations for how a mark came to be on her face.
“Our case is that the complainant is a compulsive liar.
“There will be up to 20 witnesses for the defence in relation to hysterical false claims and there will be a number of character witnesses.
“There are medical factors that will arise about psychological factors and the psychiatric condition of the alleged victim.”
But magistrate Daniel Reiss took exception to Mr Murphy’s comments, accusing him of grandstanding for the large media contingent.
“You might want to speak to the media outside,” Mr Reiss said.
He said the criticism of Ms El-Cherif was “a bit perverse when we’re here to deal with a protection order” and lectured Mr Murphy for talking over him in court.
“The number one rule in my court is not to talk at the same time as me,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got 40 years’ experience or four.
Later, the court heard that El Masri had agreed to continue to abide by the Apprehended Domestic Violence Order taken out against him by police on behalf of Ms El-Cherif, but that he did so “without making any admissions”.
Mr Murphy suggested that he would be seeking to have the order overturned in the coming weeks.
Documents before the court show that the former goal-kickng winger has been charged in relation to two separate incidents on Monday night.
The assault occasioning actual bodily harm charge relates to an incident about 7.30pm, while the common assault charge relates to an incident two hours later.
The magistrate agreed to dispense with bail, meaning that El Masri is free to live in the community without any conditions on his liberty.
The matter will return to court on February 1, 2016.
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