“I’ve been judged by every single person over every single back fence in Australia”
ripped stockings, Doc Martens and Nirvana T-shirts.” Albert decided it was time for deportment school. “I learnt how to eat with the correct cutlery during a fancy dinner, walk with a book on my head and how to get out of a sports car without flashing my knickers,” Leslie says. Her diction remains impeccable, even when she is asked to look back on the period in her life that will continue to define her, even though she’s long since moved on.
After Leslie’s arrest, she gave a tearful press conference protesting her innocence. But it was later developments – such as accusations she spent upwards of $600,000 to bribe her way out of a 15-year jail term and change lab drug-test results; blaming a friend for placing the pills in her handbag and, most controversially, claiming a conversion to Islam and wearing an Islamic hijab in order to protect herself from being raped in prison – that earned tut-tuts from the public. Asked about that period now, Leslie tells Stellar: “It was what it was. I look back and can’t believe I managed to get through some of those moments. It was a hell of a time. And it takes work and a lot of time and energy to get past the trauma of it. Everybody has a story and just because mine was public doesn’t make it any more or less traumatic, or any better or worse, than anyone else’s.
“I survived my darkest days, and I’m super proud of that girl. But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to assess it correctly, given I was the person at the heart of it all. It would all be wild stabs at what could or couldn’t have changed. True, false, incorrect… people said a lot of things. And everyone is entitled to their own opinion – and they have them!”
Leslie says her past hasn’t prevented her from winning clients – and if a potential project partner seemed suspicious, “I would just steer clear of them.” If anything, her good looks and statuesque figure have occasionally been an impediment as she sought to make inroads into the male- dominated construction industry. “I can have a real laugh with them now,” she says, “but when I first started and worked