Home and Away star Lincoln Lewis refused to help a woman who had been duped into believing they had been dating because he was worried about his own image, a court has heard.
Lewis endured a scathing grilling on Tuesday in his second day in the witness box over the appeal by Melbourne woman Lydia Abdelmalek over her sentence for pretending to be him.
Appearing in County Court Of Victoria via videolink, the Aussie soap star was forced to defend his actions after being asked by Abdelmalek’s victim in 2011 to go to police to report his identity had been stolen.
Home and Away star Lincoln Lewis was more worried about negative press than helping a woman who would later suicide because she was duped by a person pretending to be him, a court has heard
Lydia Abdelmalek (right), and her father leave the County Court of Victoria last year
The court heard it took Lewis six long years before he finally made a statement to police.
The woman, whom he had known personally, would tragically suicide before her tormentor was brought to justice.
Abdelmalek was sentenced in June 2019 to a two-year, eight-month prison term for six counts of stalking, employing what one victim called ‘sick mind games’, impersonating Lewis.
She immediately appealed the sentence and has remained practically free in the community ever since.
Lewis had spent most of Monday giving evidence on behalf of the prosecution in the appeal trial.
On Tuesday, Abdelmalek’s barrister Richard Edney launched into an extraordinary attack on him, which at one point saw prosecutors intervene.
Lewis had been trying to explain how his voice message had got on what police allege was Abdelmalek’s phone as part of her cruel hoax.
But Mr Edney just wanted him to answer his specific questions.
‘Have you finished your speech?’ the barrister barked.
Mr Edney took Lewis to the dead woman’s statement to police in which she claimed the pair ‘ceased being friends’ in June 2011.
Abdelmalek had pretended to be Lewis and used other aliases to stalk seven people for about four years from May that year.
The court heard the woman told police Lewis had agreed to meet up with her at Bondi to discuss the situation, but pulled out at the last minute.
The former Home and Away (pictured) star explained how powerless the catfishing left him
Lincoln Lewis in a recent Instagram shot. He was grilled in the virtual witness box on Tuesday
‘Lincoln Lewis did not meet up with me and he later told me that he wanted nothing to do with making a complaint to the police because of his reputation and his job as an actor,’ the woman told police.
‘He did not want his work prospects in the future to be affected by making such a complaint. He was worried the story would be made known to the media and he did not want that to occur.’
Lewis denied the accusation.
‘I remember saying to [her] that being that someone is pretending to be me and not actually being me, the person doing this, I don’t really know what to do and so I told her she needed to talk to the police.’
The court heard the woman told police she had been ‘shocked’ by Lewis’ initial response to her request for assistance back in 2011.
‘I was shocked he would not support me making a complaint to police … because of his lack in interest in doing so, we ceased communication shortly after. He would not return my calls. Lincoln Lewis did not provide a statement.’
Lewis said he recalled her asking him to make a witness statement and he had agreed.
‘I did agree to make a statement. I don’t agree,’ he said.
Mr Edney told Lewis his statement came in June 2017.
‘And that was only after Victoria Police were involved. You hadn’t made a statement before then,’ he said.
Lewis said he gave his statement when he became aware it was ‘crucial’ that he made one – albeit some six years later.
‘I remember saying to [her] that she needed to go to the police because there wasn’t much to be gained by me having no knowledge of anything and making a statement about someone pretending to be me when I haven’t done anything,’ he said.
Home and Away star Lincoln Lewis is expected to be called to court to give evidence against a cruel catfisher
The hunter becomes the hunted: Lydia Abdelmalek leaves court in February last year with her barrister as reporters hit her with a barrage of questions
Tight lipped: Lydia Abdelmalek had nothing to say as she tried to escape a media pack that chased her and her father along Lonsdale Street outside the County Court of Victoria in February last year
‘Eventually when she said it was crucial that I needed to (go to police), that’s when myself and (a friend) both went to the police station to make our statements.’
‘Six years later,’ Mr Edney quipped.
Mr Edney told the court Lewis had wrongly portrayed himself to the court as doing his utmost to help the victim.
‘[She] had made it quite clear that was not the case,’ he said.
Abdelmalek, who is also appearing in court via videolink, watched on as Lewis was put under the microscope by her barrister.
She had held an A4-sized photo of Lewis as her victims read out their impact statements during her original trial.
On Monday, Lewis told of the woman’s stress and panic after being told their supposed relationship was a fraud.
‘Please tell me you’re lying,’ the woman pleaded with Lewis.
Lewis told the court the woman believed they had been dating for the last couple of months.
Using doctored images and a voice message from his own phone, police allege Abdelmalek had cruelly convinced her she had been dating Lewis.
Lewis said Abdelmalek’s alleged victim became suspicious when face-to-face meetings supposedly with him would be cancelled.
‘She was suspicious we wouldn’t see each other in person,’ he said.
Lydia Abdelmalek has remained free in the community on appeal bail
Soap star Lincoln Lewis explained how powerless the catfishing left him, telling the court at an earlier appearance he felt powerless
One of Abdelmalek’s (pictured) victims took her own life last year, but wrote a statement beforehand outlining the trauma of being duped into believing the TV star was in love with her
The woman had sent intimate videos and pictures to a number she believed to be him.
‘I asked if she was okay. Her answer was a big, fat No,’ Lewis told the court.
Lewis spoke to the frantic woman multiple times as more chilling information was revealed about Abdelmalek’s ruse.
‘It freaked her out,’ Lewis said. ‘She was confused as to how it had happened.’
Since her release on appeal bail, Abdelmalek has been accused of attempting to bust up a married man’s relationship after becoming infatuated with him.
She spent a short stint in jail after being locked up on April 22 amid fresh allegations she was again tormenting strangers.
Abdelmalek faces a substantially longer term in jail should she be convicted again of her catfishing scam.
Her appeal, which has already been running for weeks, was expected to take anywhere up to six weeks to reach its conclusion.
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