A Brisbane father-of-two says he has experienced nightmares and suicidal thoughts, and struggled to hold down a job in the three years since a federal judge wrongfully jailed him during a routine property dispute.
The man spent a week behind bars in Brisbane in December 2018 before his jailing was suspended and later overturned.
"I don't remember people as well as I used to ... If my boss asked me to do four things, I would probably do three and apologise for the fourth," he told the Federal Court on Tuesday.
"I don't have the depth or the breadth I used to.
"There's something different ... the person I was before, I'm not now."
Known by court pseudonym Mr Stradford, the man has filed a rare civil suit against a sitting judge alleging Judge Salvatore Vasta acted beyond his judicial power and is personally liable to pay damages.
He appeared before Judge Vasta in 2018 during a routine property dispute with his estranged wife.
After being accused by his partner of not providing documents, the judge found him guilty of contempt and immediately sentenced him to a minimum of six months' jail.
He spent six nights in custody until lawyers filed an appeal.
An appeal court later described the proceedings as "beset with various specific breaches of the rules of natural justice" and "a gross miscarriage of justice".
The judge is defending the claim, citing judicial immunity while admitting he mistakenly believed another judge had already found Mr Straford guilty of criminal contempt.
Mr Stradford described being punched and elbowed in the head in prison, insulted by guards, dressed in women's shorts and told "you'd look sexier if you shaved your legs" by a "fried" inmate who wouldn't stop staring at him.
"If I'd known I was in there for a week, maybe I'd have handled it better, but I thought it was six months," the jailed man said.
After his release, he said he quickly settled with his estranged wife, giving her the family home and taking only a car laden with a $50,000 debt.
"I was not going back to court under any circumstances, whatever she wanted, she was getting," he said.
The previously successfully self-employed man found himself on the dole after his release, pawning anything of value in his home, including his kids' iPads and computers with all his old business's records.
Nightmares, suicidal thoughts, bouts of irrational anger and trouble focusing on a single task were also new occurrences, he said.
"You wake up you feel like you're in handcuffs. There are faces in your face attacking you," Mr Stradford said.
Under cross-examination, he conceded he had been severely depressed before December 2018 due to losing custody of his children and gambling away more than $300,000.
His property business was also waning due to market pressures.
"It was a perfect storm," he said.
The father is claiming aggravated and exemplary damages, alleging Judge Vasta abused his government power and operated in a "high-handed or outrageous" way.
Mr Stradford's barrister compared the conduct to the foul-tempered Queen of Hearts in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, who said: "sentence first - verdict afterwards".
An expert called by his lawyers estimates his psychiatric injuries from the wrongful imprisonment caused the loss of earnings of $2.5 million.
A defence expert says the real figure is about $200,000.
The hearing before Justice Michael Wigney is due to run into next week.
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Australian Associated Press