Criminal proceedings against a rugby league “Immortal” facing historical child sex abuse charges have been suspended amid mental health concerns.
Graeme Langlands, 76, has been charged with six counts of indecently dealing with a girl under 16, dating back to 1982 on the Gold Coast.
The former St George fullback did not appear at any of the three Brisbane Magistrates Court hearings held since the charges were laid in October, where his lawyer argued he was too sick.
Earlier this month, the Magistrates Court heard he was “wheelchair-bound” in a New South Wales nursing home, suffering from severe dementia and on medication for mood stabilisation and behaviour control.
Defence solicitor Jessica Burke applied for a referral for her client’s fitness to stand trial to be assessed.
On Wednesday, the criminal proceedings were suspended, and the case was referred to the Mental Health Court.
It was the Sydney lawyer’s second attempt to have the proceedings sent to the Mental Health Court, having failed in a “premature” application to the Magistrates Court on November 27.
“He’s heavily medicated over the course of each day and his dementia is well advanced and his cognitive abilities decline by the day,” she said at the time, noting he had “deteriorated significantly in the past six months”.
“There is no prospect of him appearing at any point in time. It’s impossible.”
Ms Burke has previously criticised the Queensland Police Service for bringing the charges, which she said had “catastrophic and irreparable” consequences.
“My client will never have his day in court. He will never be capable of defending these serious accusations and his name will forever be tarnished,” she said outside court late last month.
His family had pledged to defend the charges.
Langlands is one of only eight rugby league players to be dubbed an “Immortal”.
He played more than 200 games for the Dragons from 1963 to 1976, plus 45 tests for Australia, including 15 as captain.
It was understood the Mental Health Court will now determine Langlands’ fitness to stand trial.