A NSW spiritual healer suing a blogger for defamation could be seen as a person of sincere religious beliefs rather than a fraud or crazy, his barrister has told a jury.
Former tennis coach Serge Benhayon is suing Esther Mary Rockett claiming her continuing 2014 blog and later tweets portrayed him as delusional, dishonest, a sexual predator and the leader of a "socially harmful cult".
The bankrupt former acupuncturist maintains the defences of truth and honest opinion.
In his final address to the four jurors on Wednesday, Mr Benhayon's barrister, Kieran Smark SC, said the defence suggested his client was either a fraud or crazy but there was a third possibility - that he was a person of sincere religious beliefs.
"Ms Rockett, you might find, was obsessed or fixated on Mr Benhayon," he said.
She last saw him in a consultation in 2005 but after seeing a newspaper article and blogs in 2012 she began her campaign against him, the barrister said.
He asked what spurred her into her "extraordinary level" of action, noting she gave evidence about having a bad experience involving a healer in Japan.
"So was she predisposed to see evil in Mr Benhayon?"
Whatever the reason, she immediately set on her "remarkably industrious campaign" involving numerous blogs, complaints to authorities and a press kit sent to the media and MPs including then-communications minister Malcolm Turnbull.
She was "firing all cannons" in her "one-eyed obsession" to bring down Mr Benhayon and his business, Universal Medicine, based near Lismore in northern NSW.
Mr Smark said Ms Rockett suggested the healer had set up various techniques in the consultation rooms so he would improperly touch people.
But the barrister submitted they were fully clothed on massage tables and treated with techniques set up to restore their energy "not for the improper purpose of groping people".
Rejecting claims about Universal Medicine being a "cult", the barrister said thousands of people had done the workshops over the years and there was no evidence of them being controlled by Mr Benhayon.
His first wife had testified that she did not believe Mr Benhayon's contention that he was the reincarnation of Leonardo Da Vinci.
"There is some evidence that some of the students may have hung pictures in their homes or offices of Leonardo which may have been a response to something Mr Benhayon said," Mr Smark said. "So what?."
The hearing continues.
Australian Associated Press
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.