Australia

'Big boy's game': Salim Mehajer apologises at NSW sentence hearing

Salim Mehajer. Source: AAP

Salim Mehajer has apologised in a NSW court after a magistrate found him guilty earlier this year of electoral fraud.

Controversial Sydney businessman and former deputy mayor Salim Mehajer was a child involved in a "big boy's game" when he committed electoral fraud in the lead-up to the 2012 Auburn City Council election, a court has heard.

Mehajer faced a sentence hearing on Thursday after he was previously found guilty of being in a "joint criminal enterprise" with sister Fatima to influence the vote that led to him being elected to council.

The 32-year-old apologised in Central Local Court to his sister, his family and the community, and said he took responsibility for his "reckless" actions.

He said he didn't think at the time that what he was doing was wrong and he didn't intend to rig the election.

"Being part of this, it was a big boy's game, it wasn't for children and that's what we were," Mehajer said.

The court was told Mr Mehajer was recently diagnosed as bipolar.

“[It affects] the decisions I make … I’m my own worst enemy,” he said.

“I suffered significant depression [when in custody] and [thought] ‘maybe I do need help’.”

He later suggested he wasn't behind all the offences.

In her April verdict, magistrate Beverley Schurr was satisfied the property developer submitted to the Australian Electoral Commission forms that gave false addresses in the Auburn area.

The commission received an unusual number of online applications shortly before the close of the electoral roll.

The magistrate found voters named in some of the forged forms later said they were not responsible for completing or signing them.

Mehajer during cross-examination on Thursday said he wasn't trying to get himself elected, but he did want love and support.

"It was just about gaining the love of the community," he said.

His 28-year-old sister, Fatima, previously pleaded guilty to 77 charges of giving false or misleading information and also faced the hearing on Thursday.

She appeared to wipe away tears after her brother's apology.

The hearing continues.

Readers seeking support or information about mental health issues can contact beyondblue on 1300 22 4636 or visit the website at www.beyondblue.com.au.

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