For someone whose wife was struggling to breathe, and who was arrested on the toilet over a feud with pop star Guy Sebastian, Phillip Hanslow was calm and composed as he faced court for the first time in his life on Thursday – and now he has a surprise offer of help from star lawyer Bryan Wrench.
Hanslow, 66, is accused of threatening to kill the musician, and kicking over his fence on their adjoining Maroubra properties during an incident on January 23, after Sebastian returned from a family holiday to Japan.
The former builder arrived at Waverley Local Court on Thursday morning with his frail wife Carol to find several cameras pointed in his direction. However, the elderly man was unfazed.
He calmly went to the boot of his beat-up ex-military ambulance – a Ford F-150 – to collect his wife’s wheelchair, before he helped her out of the car, put her oxygen tank in a bag, politely rejected assistance from strangers, and wheeled her inside.
The couple waited to be assigned a courtroom for about an hour. Throughout that time, his wheelchair-bound wife struggled to keep her breathing and heart rate under control.
Mrs Hanslow – who is in and out of hospital frequently with chronic respiratory issues – was repeatedly asked by if she was OK, to which she would reply: ‘I will be fine when I get my heart rate down’.
When they finally entered Court 2, an officer said, loudly: ‘Whoever is responsible for that beeping, can you turn it off?’
Members of the public gallery had to explain the beeping was coming from Mrs Hanslow’s pulse machine.
The court officer apologised, but the elderly woman felt self-conscious and turned the device off.
When his matter was called, Hanslow fronted the magistrate and calmly explained his situation.
I don’t want to enter a plea today because I tried to get Legal Aid to represent me but there was no one available,’ he told the magistrate.
He then explained that a proposed two-week adjournment was not sufficient because he has to go to hospital within that time to get a bowel infection removed.
The matter, which lasted less than five minutes, was adjourned to March 9.
‘Is that it?’ Mrs Hanslow said, when her husband moved to wheel her outside the courtroom.
In a stroke of luck, Mr Hanslow’s case captured the attention of celebrity lawyer Bryan Wrench, from Murphy’s Lawyers, who was in Court 2 for another matter by sheer coincidence.
Wrench has had a number of high profile clients including music icon Shannon Noll, NRL star Sam Burgess, and Wolf Creek actor John Jarrett. On Thursday morning, he expressed interest in taking on Hanslow’s case.
‘It’s a bit grandiose to think these guys [the Hanslows] are a threat. I don’t normally do this, in fact I never have before, but I would be happy to represent him,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
During the altercation on January 23, Hanslow allegedly said to the Battle Scars hitmaker ‘I’ll put a bullet in your head’, but he believes he actually said ‘one day someone will put a bullet in your head’.
Police raided Hanslow’s home in the following days, arriving at the elderly man’s house while he was on the toilet.
He was arrested, charged and hit with an apprehended violence order for Sebastian’s protection.
Outside court on Thursday, Hanslow told Daily Mail Australia that his neighbour was a ‘vengeful’ person.
‘He’s paranoid about security and has a large security camera outside so anywhere I go outside on the property, he can see…’ Mr Hanslow claimed.
‘We’re going to have to sell. We’re too old for this.’
Outside court afterwards, Hanslow was asked whether he was surprised to have been charged.
‘I’m surprised by the whole ordeal and I’m surprised the police even arrested me,’ he responded.
‘They broke into the back of the house, smashed down the door and came into the house while I was the toilet and arrested me and then took me off the police station and I spent six and half hours in the lockups over just a heated argument between neighbours, which I think is really overboard.’
The alleged incidents followed years of rising tensions.
Hanslow is alleged to have confronted Sebastian at the property and kicked down his fence.
Earlier, police took out an apprehended violence order against Hanslow on Sebastian’s behalf, banning him from contacting the singer or setting foot on his property.
When Daily Mail Australia visited Hanslow on January 25 he said the singer was ‘not a nice guy’, but added: ‘I’m seeking legal advice – that’s all I can say at the moment.’
The bitter row began in 2013 when Sebastian, 41, and wife Jules Egan, 43, bought a property in Maroubra in Sydney’s eastern suburbs for $3.1million.
But when they demolished it to build their sprawling new dream home, it triggered the epic feud between the Sebastians and Hanslow.
Hanslow claimed debris from the demolition damaged his home when a ‘brick missile’ smashed into an outside wall, narrowly missing his lounge window and his terminally-ill wife Carole, who was watching TV inside.
And he slammed the final design of the Sebastian’s new home as an ugly fortress for its imposing and windowless frontage, butting right up to the edge of his home.
Hanslow has now been driven out of the home, which is believed to be owned by his wife Carol, and instead lives in a rundown and dilapidated property in Carlton with his sick wife and their pet bird, Boo Boo.
But the former builder, who was forced to retire with fibromyalgia, still returns to his Maroubra home to work on renovations.