Four-and-a-half hours after he was supposed to face a Sydney court, Salim Mehajer has pleaded not guilty to staging a car crash in 2017 and a raft of other charges.
Mehajer missed his Thursday morning court date after winding up in hospital, with a frustrated judge warning he would issue an arrest warrant if the 33-year-old failed to show up later in the day.
The former Auburn deputy mayor fronted Parramatta District Court at 2pm wearing a bright blue short-sleeved shirt with a fresh white bandage on his right wrist clearly visible.
Mehajer pleaded not guilty to charges he staged a 2017 crash in which his Mercedes AMG collided with another vehicle just before he was meant to appear in court over a taxi driver assault.
He also pleaded not guilty to providing a false statement, affidavit and information and possessing a prohibited drug. His trial was set down for June 2020.
Mehajer drew Judge James Bennett's ire early on Thursday when his lawyer, Zali Burrows, told the court her client was not present because he was receiving medical attention.
"The situation is Mr Mehajer is currently in Fairfield Hospital at the hand clinic," she said, offering Judge Bennett a photo her client had sent her with what appeared to be a bandage on his right arm as proof.
A fed-up Judge Bennett had no interest in seeing the photo, telling Ms Burrows he'd made it clear to Mehajer that he was to be in court.
"I'll stand the matter down until 2pm," he said, adding that Mehajer had better turn up "otherwise I'll issue a warrant for his arrest".
Mehajer's co-accused, Rafi Noori, was present in court and pleaded not guilty to helping stage the crash.
Outside court, Ms Burrows requested the media stop calling her client "disgraced", suggesting "misunderstood" would be a better term.
Mehajer had previously been scheduled to have surgery on his hand on Wednesday.
However, his barrister, Dymphna Hawkins, said the surgery was cancelled when he failed to see a specialist on Tuesday as he was in court seeking variations to his bail conditions, including permission to have a mobile phone and to use social media, in particular, Instagram.
Australian Associated Press