Yumi Stynes reveals how she ‘feared for her life’ after nine-year marriage broke down – but her ex-husband alleges she was violent towards him, court hears
TV and radio presenter Yumi Stynes claims she was scared for her life after breaking up with her husband of nine years, who in turn claims she was violent towards him.
Ms Stynes and her ex-husband Martin Bendeler appeared in Sydney Downing Center Local Court on Thursday to face a legal battle over harassment allegations.
Mr Bendeler is challenging the imposition of an apprehended violence order restricting his interactions with his ex-wife.
Under the standard terms of the restraining order, he is not allowed to assault, threaten, stalk, harass or intimidate his ex-wife or damage her property.
Mr Bendeler, a practicing lawyer, has not been accused of any wrongdoing and the court heard he has no criminal record.
Yumi Stynes and her ex-husband Martin Bendeler (pictured while married) appeared in Sydney Downing Center Local Court on Thursday to face a legal battle over harassment allegations
Yumi Stynes is pictured entering Downing center court on Wednesday
The interim order was issued by police in December last year on behalf of Ms Stynes, who claimed she feared for her safety due to harassing messages from her ex.
Police prosecutor Michael Cleaver said ‘the number of messages the complainant received and the nature of the messages’ left Ms Stynes feeling intimidated and scared.
The court heard the author told police Mr Bendeler had never hurt her but she believed his behavior had become ‘increasingly unpredictable’.
“I am concerned that if we are not in a public place, he is more likely to be violent,” she said in a police statement.
After making a second statement, the TV and radio presenter urged police to take action against the “discomfort and fear” caused by her “intimidating ex-husband.”
“I literally fear for my life,” she told them in her request for an AVO.
The court heard Bendeler sent 242 messages to his ex-wife in the period leading up to her complaint, but police only saw selected messages from Mrs Stynes.
Mrs Stynes claims she was scared for her life after breaking up with her husband of nine years, Mr Bendeler, who in turn claims she was violent towards him (the couple are pictured together on their wedding day )
His lawyer Paul McGirr told the court there were ‘no threats at all in the messages’ and described Mr Bendeler as a ‘non-violent man’.
He argued that Ms Stynes had used her complaint ‘as a weapon rather than a shield’ to strengthen her position in a separate legal dispute.
“It’s not just a coincidence that she wants an AVO, she has family law proceedings coming up,” Mr McGirr told the court.
“It has a bad smell.”
Mr. Bendeler testified that he never hurt Mrs. Stynes or even raised his voice at her during their years of marriage. However, he told the court she had been violent towards him.
“I’m afraid that Yumi will send the police to me based on how she feels, while I think I’m not always responsible for how she feels,” he said.
The lawyer said his client felt “humiliated and scared” when police knocked on his door in December and told him his ex-wife thought his messages were intimidating and inappropriate.
Despite a suggestion from police that he only contact Ms Stynes through lawyers, the court heard Mr Bendeler messaged her just hours after the police visit.
In it, he mentioned a recent sexual encounter with another woman, which Cleaver said was “intended to arouse some form of outrage or disgust” and constituted harassment.
However, Mr McGirr said the discussion was not inappropriate for a former couple who were open about sex.
He claimed Ms Stynes had not asked her ex-husband to stop messaging her, but Mr Cleaver claimed Mr Bendeler had instead ignored her plea and continued messaging.
The court heard the author (pictured) told police Mr Bendeler had never hurt her but she believed his behavior had become ‘increasingly unpredictable’.
“The evidence supports the contention that (Mr. Bendeler) has engaged or is likely to engage in conduct that would amount to a domestic violence offense,” the police prosecutor said.
Mr McGirr strongly disagreed, pointing to the lack of threats in the messages and the timing of the complaint.
Magistrate Keisha Hopgood will make her decision next month on whether to impose a final AVO.
“Given the significance of the decision, it’s not something I’m going to rush into,” she said.
Mr Bendeler will be restricted by the preliminary injunction until he returns to court in October.