“I’ve been judged by ev­ery sin­gle per­son over ev­ery sin­gle back fence in Aus­tralia”

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Front Page -

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.