Axe-wielding doctor admits punching and intimidating woman

A doctor from Sydney’s eastern suburbs who threatened a woman with an axe and punched her is facing a fresh legal fight after allegedly using a walkie talkie to continue to talk to her.

Dr John Balafas appeared in Sydney Downing Centre on Wednesday via audiovisual link from jail to make a bid for bail after being arrested for breaching the conditions of an apprehended violence order.

The order was imposed to protect a woman who was assaulted and intimidated by the doctor in 2021.

On March 14, the 47-year-old medical professional pleaded guilty to intimidating the woman by approaching her with an axe, which he slammed down on a table between them, court documents reveal.

Camera IconBondi doctor John Balafas has admitted to threatening a woman with an axe and punching her. Credit: Supplied

According to the documents, he grabbed at the woman’s phone, which she was using to film the incident, and pushed her in the arm. He then lunged at her and broke a glass, which shattered on her legs.

The Bondi local was “highly intoxicated” at the time, according to the police facts.

Nine months later, court documents show he was drunk again when he hit the woman with a “big punch” to her arm and grabbed it. Dr Balafas has also pleaded guilty to punching the woman.

On Wednesday, his lawyer, Michael Hempsall, told the court his client “was suffering from significant substance abuse issues and mental health concerns” at the time of the attacks.

An apprehended violence order was put in place in February 2022 to protect the woman from Dr Balafas and it forbade him from contacting or approaching her.

The Bondi local swapped his scrubs for prison greens in October last year when he was arrested for allegedly breaching the conditions of the AVO multiple times.

Police allege the doctor tried to avoid police detection by using surreptitious means such as walkie talkies and encrypted messaging platforms to communicate with the woman.

Dr Balafas spoke to the woman as much as ten times a day when it was prohibited by the court orders, according to police allegations.

Court Stock Images
Camera IconDr Balafas beamed into Downing Centre Local Court on Wednesday. NCA NewsWire / Nikki Short Credit: News Corp Australia

He was allegedly threatening in some of the conversations, including one in which the court heard he told the woman he wished her mother would die.

Police claim the 42-year-old also drove the woman around in his car in direct contravention of the court orders not to approach her.

He has pleaded guilty to intimidation, common assault, and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Dr Balafas has pleaded not guilty to nine charges of contravening an apprehended violence order and one charge of intimidation.

Mr Hempsall told the court the contact between the doctor and the woman was “mutual” and the woman was “persistently approaching him”.

Magistrate Juliana Crofts argued there was no court order imposed on the woman, only Dr Balafas.

“Your client is an educated man. He knows what measures need to be taken,” she told Mr Hempsall.

She noted the doctor allegedly took elaborate measures to ensure he could speak to the woman without police being notified.

“I get concerned when I read things about radios being used in contravention of court orders,” the magistrate said.

The prosecution told the court there was an “unacceptable risk” the 47-year-old would find creative ways to breach the AVO conditions again and interfere with an upcoming hearing.

“After 140 days in jail, you might think he’s learned his lesson,” Mr Hempsall said.

Court Stock Images
Camera IconDr Balafas will return to court for a hearing later this month. NCA NewsWire / Nikki Short Credit: News Corp Australia

Magistrate Crofts determined the risk could be mitigated with strict bail conditions which prohibit contacting the woman.

Dr Balafas was also ordered to report to police daily, abstain from alcohol or drugs, and not use any encrypted devices.

He will return to court later this month to fight ten charges in a hearing.

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