Inside friends’ desperate bids to help Laidley before arrest
Friends of former AFL Premiership star Dean Laidley were deeply concerned about his out of control drug use a fortnight ago and urged him to enter rehab before his dramatic arrest on Saturday.
Laidley has now spent a third night behind bars as his mother told the Herald Sun she was "absolutely devastated" and wants him to know his family are sticking by him.
Speaking from her home in Perth's northern suburbs, Carmel Friberg said she was "just as gobsmacked as everyone" that the 53-year-old former North Melbourne player had been charged with a string of serious crimes including stalking, committing an indictable offence while on bail and other offences.
Ms Friberg last saw her son in Perth at Christmas but spoke to him last week in the days leading up to the arrest.
She and the family were yesterday struggling to understand how the caring father-of-three - who has been checking in regularly with Ms Friberg during the coronavirus pandemic - fell from grace.
"He was here at Christmas time - he wasn't well but he was OK and I spoke to him on Wednesday and he seemed to be OK," said Ms Friberg, 75.
"I'm just absolutely devastated because it's just not him, it's not him at all," she said.
Ms Friberg, who has not spoken to her son since the arrest, said she was at a complete loss as to what triggered his alleged behaviour.
The Herald Sun has been told friends of the fallen star had become increasingly concerned about his behaviour in the past two weeks and had urged him to seek professional help.
The former Kangaroos coach was seen dishevelled and dressed in women's clothing when police arrested him outside a St Kilda home about 9pm on Saturday.
The Herald Sun can also reveal his lawyer told Melbourne Magistrates' Court he was suffering from a psychiatric illness and requested an urgent mental health assessment during a hearing at the weekend.
In custody management records, Deputy Magistrate Jelena Popovic also noted Laidley could be vulnerable because it was his first time in custody.
Laidley's premiership teammate Corey McKernan said former players were deeply concerned about him.
"He is someone who played at North Melbourne and did an incredible job as an under-resourced coach during his tenure. But he has lost his way and everyone is thinking of him and wants to see him get right," he said.
Former North Melbourne player Mark Brayshaw, now the AFL Coaches Association chief executive, told the Herald Sun the body was determined to help the former senior coach.
"His issues haven't escaped our attention. We are in conversations with North Melbourne and the players association to try to work out the best way we can help him," Mr Brayshaw said.
The Herald Sun has been told many in the AFL community had known that Laidley had quirky lifestyle tendencies as early as his playing days, which continued when he was the coach of North Melbourne for 149 games between 2003-2009.
Some of Laidley's alleged issues were known across the North Melbourne past players network but few were aware of the extent of them.
Past players spoken to yesterday were shocked and wondering if they could have done more to help him out.
But the man - commonly known by players as "The Bible" given he was so hard to read - was also seen as something of a loner who kept his own counsel.
In a podcast last week, Laidley said: "You are stuck at home because of the restrictions, then you don't have footy so I'm actually breaking my neck for it to start."
Laidley took over as coach at Essendon District Football League Premier Division club Maribyrnong Park in 2019.
The club is yet to make a decision about Laidley's role as suburban clubs prepare for a potential return to the field amid the coronavirus crisis.
"At this point, the club has no comment to make. Our position is no comment," president Andrew Brockfield said yesterday.
Laidley will return to court on Monday where he will appear via video link.
COP COULD FACE JAIL FOR LEAKED PHOTOS
A police officer could be jailed for leaking photos of former AFL coach Dean Laidley while in custody.
Victoria Police officers and the Police Minister yesterday said they were furious over the leaking of the pictures, which were widely shared across social media from Sunday night.
Senior Constable Shane Reid from the southern metropolitan region has been suspended with pay over the scandal.
Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton said yesterday Reid had been interviewed for criminal conduct and could be charged with unauthorised disclosure of information.
The offence carries a two-year maximum jail term and $40,000 in fines.
Senior Constable Reid will also face internal disciplinary action.
Mr Patton offered a personal apology to Laidley over the gross breach of conduct.
He said the leak was "unlawful" and investigators would leave no stone unturned in finding out how the images got out.
"I am appalled an employee of Victoria Police has taken these photographs," Mr Patton said. "It is unacceptable conduct. It is appalling conduct and there is no place for it in our organisation.
"This is a breach of privacy, a breach of human rights and we are taking the matter extremely seriously."
Investigators believe six other people were sent the photo of Laidley during his police interview as well as his official mugshot.
Police Minister Lisa Neville said: "It was an idiotic thing to do. This is completely unacceptable to breach privacy."
The senior constable's phone was to be thoroughly "interrogated" as part of the investigation.
"We will be stepping through the entire process. We will be interrogating the phone of the member and looking at a forensic examination to see where this leads," Mr Patton said.
The officer was interviewed yesterday and said to be remorseful. He is co-operating with Professional Standard Command detectives.
Mr Patton apologised to Laidley on behalf of the force, vowing to make sure it never happened again.
"Clearly we have let down that person whose photos were taken. We have breached his privacy and I apologise on behalf of Victoria Police," he said.
Liberty Victoria said in a statement: "The release of the photos, which include a mug shot and photographs of sensitive Victoria Police records, is a serious violation of Laidley's human rights, and will likely impact public confidence in Victoria Police's approach to privacy."
Read more on the latest, here.
PREMIERSHIP TEAMMATES RALLY AROUND LAIDLEY
Mobile phones started pinging early Monday morning among the group of North Melbourne premiership players.
There was no judgment in their messages, only concern and offers of support for their mate, Dean Laidley
"What can I do to help?" was the common theme.
Many of them woke to a photo of Laidley in women's clothes and another that appeared to be a police mug shot showing their former teammate without the long, blonde wig but with dishevelled hair and smudged makeup.
Of course, most were shocked. But some weren't that surprised.
Among football people there's always been some curiosity about Laidley's private life.
It's been more rumour and mischievous speculation, but the weekend's events seemed to reveal a dark side.
His fetish for women's clothes, if that's what he has, is entirely Laidley's business. Some people may be disturbed by it, and it's attracted a heavy dose of ridicule on social media. But others wouldn't be critical. He likes dressing up as woman? No worries. Move on.
Other elements, as alleged, are more alarming.
Stalking a person is illegal, creepy and carries more than a hint of intimidation.
This was the second time in a month Laidley had allegedly undertaken such behaviour, police said.
If he is convicted of stalking he will face the consequences.
Read the full version of this story, here.
Originally published as Inside friends' desperate bids to help Laidley before arrest