Television star Andrew O'Keefe has had domestic violence assault charges dismissed after a successful mental health application, however he remains subject to an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO).
Five months after he was arrested, a Court has heard that Mr O'Keefe was in a manic state of bipolar at the time of the incident.
The incident was said to have occurred at his partner's Randwick apartment before he was arrested in the early hours of the morning.
Outside Court, the ex-Channel 7 star told reporters he was now focused on looking after his mental health.
Andrew O'Keefe appeared at Waverley Local Court in June 2021 where his lawyers made a Section 32 mental health application for his charges to be dismissed.
It was alleged that O'Keefe had spat at her before slapping, kicking and shoving her to the ground in two separate incidents between 11pm on 30 January 2021 and 12.16am on 31 January 2021.
As a result, Dr Lavee suffered injuries to her lip and back. These injuries formed the basis for an assault occasioning actual bodily harm charge.
The court heard that the former 'The Chase' host had been involved in an incident with his partner - Dr Orlay Lavee. The pair were involved in a heated argument after attending a birthday party in Surry Hills.
Dr Lavee confronted Mr O'Keefe as they left the party over her belief that he had an ice pipe in his pocket. Despite O'Keefe denying this and turning out his pockets, Lavee did not believe him which led to the argument.
The facts sheet set out that Dr Lavee told him to, "leave and never come back" to which Mr O'Keefe responded: "You are cruel and heartless.I think it's over."
In response to Dr Lavee saying, "This relationship meant nothing to me," Mr O'Keefe said, "That's a real spit in the face."
It was alleged that he then grabbed her shoulders before spitting in her face. This formed the basis of a common assault charge.
Dr Lavee pushed the former TV star in the face and ripped the buttons off his shirt before he left the residence.
But Mr O'Keefe returned a short time later after realising he was not in possession of his mobile phone and medication. Unbeknownst to him, Dr Lavee had found his phone and was trawling through his messages for evidence of infidelity and drug use.
Upon his return Dr Lavee said that she would tell the media and his ex-wife he was a "junkie" and that he had been cheating on her. O'Keefe again protested his innocence and despite asking for his phone, Dr Lavee continually refused.
It was alleged that he then pushed her into a bookcase and grabbed her by the breast before kicking her on the buttocks and pushing her to the carpet floor. He then looked through a shelf for his phone and left the premises.
The facts sheet read that Mr O'Keefe was arrested at around 3.30am when he made certain admissions to police.
Following his arrest, he was admitted to hospital as an involuntary patient and remained there until 18 February 2021.
Mental Health Application for Assault Charges
The magistrate at Waverley Local Court also heard that Andrew O'Keefe had been suffering from mental health and drug issues prior to the assault allegations.
A psychiatrist report was tendered during proceedings which revealed the assaults took place while Mr O'Keefe was in a manic state of bipolar during the offending.
The ex-television star wore a grey suit to court and sat in the front row as his criminal lawyer argued that the charges should be dismissed on mental health grounds pursuant to a Section 32 Application.
A further charge of common assault - based on an incident in the Kangaroo Valley on 20 January 2021 - was withdrawn by the prosecution as well.
Andrew O'Keefe's assault lawyers explained to the Court that their client had undergone "some of the most intensive treatment that could be envisaged" for his mental health issues.
They also argued that their client was impacted so severely on the night of the assaults that he "couldn't even go home, he was detained in a mental health facility."
The former channel 7 star had spent three weeks as an involuntary patient at the Prince of Wales Hospital and had attended regular psychiatric appointments since.
The Magistrate noted the seriousness of the offences but noted it took place during a "heated argument and reaction" between both parties.
He also made mention of the medical reports tendered by the television personality's domestic violence lawyers in court, labelling them "powerful". He also said that they showed a nexus between Andrew O'Keefe's mental condition and his actions.
Ultimately, the Magistrate dismissed the domestic violence assault charges by granting the Section 32 Application and ordering Mr O'Keefe to undergo a six-month treatment program and to abstain from alcohol and drugs.
Mr O'Keefe's AVO lawyers consented to an Apprehended Violence Order for a period of 12 months that prevents Mr O'Keefe from assaulting Dr Lavee.
Mr Hudson urged Mr O'Keefe to heed the warning and focus on improving his health for himself and for the sake of the community and future partners, saying, "These are matters where there is no magic bullet or no magic pill. It's an order, in truth, for the rest of your life."
Andrew O'Keefe Speaks on Assault Charges
Outside court, the 49-year-old told reporters he was focused on looking after his health and was grateful for the Magistrate's decision to dismiss the charges saying, "I thank His Honour for managing that balancing act very well, I think."
"I agree with everything His Honour and the court said about the need to protect the community from domestic violence and it's a real shame (to end up in this position)."
Andrew O'Keefe was a former White Ribbon ambassador himself.
Channel 7 had previously announced that they had terminated his employment with them despite having worked with them for 17 years. Over that period he had hosted shows such as 'Deal or No Deal' and co-hosting 'Weekend Sunrise'.
Mr O'Keefe also said, "I'm not sure if I'm over or if TV's over. For the time being it means looking after my own and making sure I am back on form when I re-emerge."
Section 61 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) sets out that common assault is an act whereby a person intentionally or recklessly causes another person to apprehend immediate and unlawful violence.
To establish a common assault charge, the prosecution must prove the following:
- You committed an act; and
- This act caused immediate and unlawful violence to the alleged victim, OR caused the alleged victim to apprehend immediate and unlawful violence; and
- You had the requisite intent (recklessness is sufficient)
The following defences to assault charges can be relied on:
- Self defence: Your actions were a reasonable response in the circumstances as you perceived them.
- No hostility: You did not have the intent to cause immediate and unlawful violence. This could be if your touching of the alleged victim was an accident or socially acceptable/necessary contact (eg. touching someone to get their attention).
- Consent: The alleged victim consented to the touching
- Duress: You were forced to commit the assault
- Necessity: Your actions were necessary in the circumstances
If you are charged with common assault, you should contact Astor Legal immediately so that we can help you avoid a criminal conviction. You can view some recent cases here.
While jail is a possibility, only 6% of offenders are sentenced to full-time imprisonment. More significantly, the overwhelming majority of offenders received convictions for this offence. The rate of convictions increases for domestic violence assaults.
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