Jami-Lee Ross in a 'major life crisis' before going to police about political party donations - psychiatrist

A psychiatrist has told the High Court that former National MP Jami-Lee Ross was in a ‘major life crisis’ before going to police about alleged fraudulent political party donations. 

The donations are now at the centre of a high court trial, in which the Crown alleges Ross and others attempted to conceal the identity of the true donor, businessman Yukin Zhang.

But on Friday Ross’s mental well-being at the time was called into question.

2018 was a turbulent time for Jami-Lee Ross as he was exposed as the leaker of the then-National Party leader’s expenses, accused of sexual harassment, faced ongoing personal marital issues and demotion.

However, the court heard they were not the only things he was dealing with at the time.

"He was in a major life crisis," psychiatrist Dr Hugh Clarkson told the court.

In September 2018 Ross was referred to Dr Clarkson, and later diagnosed with severe adjustment disorder.

"He was not at all sure that he could possibly survive the situation that he was in and was worried that he would commit suicide."

Matters became worse for Ross when his leader asked him to accept a demotion, prompting feelings of failure as a husband and father.

"I described him in my notes as bewildered, desperate and reactive... and he talked about revenge at that time if he wasn't able to prevent the demotion."

Dr Clarkson also made reference to vulnerabilities arising from Ross' childhood.

"I saw Mr Ross as having great difficulty distinguishing childhood feelings from more mature adult feelings about the situation he was in."

Leading up to the MP making explosive media and police statements, Dr Clarkson said his mental state was worsening.

"He wasn’t capable of thinking through things in a clear and level-headed way and really weighing up consequences, he was just trying to wrestle with feelings at the time. "

Later that month Ross was hospitalised under the Mental Health Act.

Under cross-examination, Dr Clarkson said Ross would appear calm on the surface and that his disorder did not have an effect on his ability to tell the truth.

The trial before Justice Ian Gault will resume on Monday.