Fallen AFL icon Dean Laidley was forced to write a thank...

Released: 04:46 GMT, 11. November 2020 | Updated: 05:38 GMT, 11. November 2020

Concerned AFL pedestrian Dean Laidley was forced to write a thank you letter to police despite suspected officials leaking photos of the former champion in custody.

Laidley, who officially changed his name to Dani and is now referred to as Ms. Laidley, appeared on video link in front of Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, where the revelations were aired.

Top criminal defense attorney Rob Stary, who previously represented underground characters Tony Mokbel and Carl Williams and acted in high-profile terrorism cases, told the court that his client had “changed sex” since he last appeared in court.

Dean Laidley runs a Maccas after his release from prison in May.

A court sketch of former AFL player and coach Dean Laidley during a trial in Melbourne Magistrates Court earlier this year

A court sketch of former AFL player and coach Dean Laidley during a trial in Melbourne Magistrates Court earlier this year

A court sketch of former AFL player and coach Dean Laidley during a trial in Melbourne Magistrates Court earlier this year

“Dani Laidley, formerly Dean Laidley, has sexually changed and it is appropriate that I address her by her real name, which is now Dani Laidley,” advised Stary.

Laidley had been found with a lot of methamphetamine allegedly hidden in her bra in a prison cell – leading to the unusual second charge of possessing the drug inside the prison walls.

The court agreed to include Laidley on a diversion program that gives first-time offenders the opportunity to avoid conviction, provided she writes a thank you letter to the officer who arrested her.

Laidley made national news in May when police leaked photos of her dressed as a woman while she was in custody.

After the scandal, 13 police officers and support staff were suspended or transferred to other duties, and several were charged.

The photos showed Laidley in a wig and makeup and were shared on social media and published by some news outlets.

Even so, Laidley agreed to write the letter.

If she does so and has no problems for the next four months, the charges will be completely dismissed.

Similar diversion negotiations were carried out entirely administratively during the COVID-19 pandemic in Victoria.

There was so much interest in Laidley’s case that the court decided to hold a video hearing during which Laidley kept her camera off.

Mr. Stary told the court that his client had no objection to the calling of the virtual hearing “in the circumstances”.

Magistrate Jack Vandersteen told Laidley she was given the distraction because he had not previously committed any insults, had received significant mental treatment since her arrest, and had obviously felt remorse.

“Mrs. Laidley is contrite, Mrs. Laidley is well supported in the ward,” he said.

The judge also took into account the violent public attention Laidley had received since his very public arrest in May, when photos of her in women’s clothes were leaked by police.

“I accept that there has been a very significant extra-curial punishment – matters that Ms. Laidley received because of the photo’s publication and the significant media coverage,” said Vandersteen.

The move was unsurprisingly supported by the police.

Court heard AFL legend Dean Laidley had to write a thank you letter to the police

Court heard AFL legend Dean Laidley had to write a thank you letter to the police

Court heard AFL legend Dean Laidley had to write a thank you letter to the police

Laidley's attorney says the former AFL coach now identifies as a woman

Laidley's attorney says the former AFL trainer now identifies as a woman

Laidley’s attorney says the former AFL trainer 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 be thanked because without the informant’s consent this request would not have been able to proceed,” he said.

At the time, then Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton described the leakage of Laidley’s photos as “appalling” and “unacceptable”.

Mr. Patton apologized on behalf of the troop and said, “Sure, we’ve let this person down.”

“We violated your privacy and I apologize on behalf of the Victoria Police,” he said.

Laidley faces a number of other charges related to allegations of stalking and related violations of the Intervention Regulation.

She will return to court next month.

The court was previously informed that Laidley poses no risk to the public and should be released on bail

The court was previously informed that Laidley poses no risk to the public and should be released on bail

The court was previously informed that Laidley poses no risk to the public and should be released on bail

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