Former TV personality Andrew O'Keefe spat at, kicked and pushed his former partner in the midst of a heated argument sparked by her belief he was holding an ice pipe, a court has been told.
It can be revealed O'Keefe had been battling mental health and drug abuse issues in the lead-up to the incident at Dr Orly Lavee's Randwick, Sydney, apartment on the night of January 30.
On Friday, the Australian entertainer's domestic violence charges were dismissed at Waverley Local Court as it was revealed the assaults took place while O'Keefe was in a manic state of bipolar.
The ex-Channel 7 star made his first appearance in court almost five months after news broke of his arrest following allegations he assaulted ex-girlfriend Lavee.
Wearing a grey suit, O'Keefe sat in the front row of the court as his lawyer successfully argued to have his charges of common assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm dismissed on mental health grounds.
A further charge of common assault – relating to an incident in the Kangaroo Valley on January 20 – was dismissed by prosecutors before the hearing began.
Outside court, the 49-year-old told reporters he was focused on looking after his health and was grateful for magistrate Ross Hudson's decision to dismiss the charges and order him to continue an intensive treatment programme.
"I thank His Honour for managing that balancing act very well, I think," he said.
"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]."
The court was told the former The Chase host assaulted Lavee twice – first spitting at her before slapping, kicking and shoving her to the ground – in two separate incidents between 11pm on January 30 and 12.16am on January 31.
The second incident caused injuries to Lavee's lip and back, the court was told, according to agreed facts.
Hudson told the court the assaults came during a violent argument between Lavee and O'Keefe after the couple attended a birthday party in Surry Hills.
The court was told Lavee confronted O'Keefe as they left the party after she put her hand in his pocket and believed she felt an ice pipe, which he denied.
Lavee did not believe him and the argument ensued once they returned home despite O'Keefe turning out his pockets to show he was not holding a pipe.
Lavee told him to "leave and never come back", to which O'Keefe responded: "You are cruel and heartless."
Their heads clashed and O'Keefe said: "I think it's over."
"This relationship meant nothing to me," Lavee replied.
The court was told O'Keefe then said, "That's a real spit in the face", before grabbing his partner's shoulders and spitting in her face.
Lavee pushed O'Keefe in the face and ripped the buttons off his shirt before he left her home.
The court was told he left before realising he was not in possession of his mobile phone and medication, so he returned to the apartment to retrieve it.
In the meantime Lavee found his phone and began searching through messages for evidence of infidelity and drug use, the court was told.
Lavee then threatened O'Keefe on his return that she would tell the media and his ex-wife he was a "junkie and a user" and that he had been adulterous.
O'Keefe protested that she was mistaken and asked for his phone, but Lavee continually refused, the court was told.
He then "pushed her into a bookcase and grabbed her by the breast".
As she continued to resist his requests, he kicked her on the buttocks and finally pushed her to the carpet floor before rummaging through a shelf to find his phone and leaving the premises.
The court was told O'Keefe was arrested about 3.30am and made admissions to his actions to police.
He was then admitted to hospital as an involuntary patient and remained there until February 18.
His lawyer Troy Edwards told the court that since the incident O'Keefe had undergone "some of the most intensive treatment that could be envisaged" for his mental health issues.
He argued his client, who had no criminal history, was impacted so severely on the night of the assaults he "couldn't even go home, he was detained in a mental health facility".
Overall, O'Keefe spent three weeks as an involuntary patient at the Prince of Wales Hospital and has had dozens of mental health appointments in the months since.
Hudson said he could not ignore the seriousness of the incident but noted it took place during a "heated argument and reaction" between the two parties.
He said the psychological reports and medical evidence tendered in court were "powerful" and showed a nexus between O'Keefe's condition and his actions.
Hudson ordered O'Keefe undergo a mandated six-month treatment programme and to abstain from alcohol and drugs during that time.
He urged O'Keefe to heed the warning and focus on improving his health for himself and for the sake of the community and future partners.
"These are matters where there is no magic bullet or no magic pill," he said. "It's an order, in truth, for the rest of your life."
Earlier, Edwards told the court that if his client's section 32 application was unsuccessful he would enter guilty pleas to the charges.
Channel 7 announced soon after O'Keefe's charges were revealed that he had been let go by the network after 17 years gracing game shows including Deal or No Deal and co-hosting Weekend Sunrise.
Outside court O'Keefe, a former White Ribbon ambassador, said he was unsure if his television career was over: "I'm not sure if I'm over or if TV's over."
Where to go for help or more information
• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843
• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633
• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• Ministry of Justice: www.justice.govt.nz/family-justice/domestic-violence
• National Network of Stopping Violence: www.nnsvs.org.nz
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women www.whiteribbon.org.nz
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