A woman who impersonated a Home and Away heart-throb to ‘catfish’ women online will remain behind bars amid fresh stalking and assault allegations.
Melbourne woman Lydia Abdelmalek, 29, 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 soap star Lincoln Lewis.
But Abdelmalek was bailed almost immediately as she flagged an appeal.
Lydia Abdelmalek (right), and her father leave the County Court of Victoria last year
The former Home and Away (pictured) star explained how powerless the catfishing left him, telling the court at an earlier appearance he felt powerless
She was released with a $10,000 surety and directed to comply with strict social media restrictions.
On Friday, the cruel scammer appeared in the Heidelberg Magistrates’ Court on a swag of new charges, including assault, stalking, using a carriage service to harass and committing offences while on bail.
Her lawyer, Stary Norton Halphen’s Sam Norton, labelled the police prosecution of his client a ‘disgrace’ and asked she be released from custody immediately.
Abdelmalek is being held at Melbourne’s notorious Dame Phyliss Frost Centre, which houses some of Australia’s most violent female criminals.
The court heard police allege Abdelmalek got into a heated argument with a man at an Aldi supermarket in Epping – north of Melbourne – in March where she claimed he slapped her mobile phone from her hand.
Both alleged assault and contacted police, with Abdelmalek taking to social media to vent on her victim using an alleged fake name on a community Facebook page.
When the alleged victim responded in defence, Abdelmalek allegedly doubled down on the man.
‘Defending himself, or defending his girlfriend that his wife doesn’t know about,’ she allegedly posted.
‘The police are involved now so he can’t hide forever. Also we have video footage.’
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
The court heard Abdelmalek continued to contact her victim under a false name, using a display picture of his own family as her profile photo.
Detective Senior-Constable Emily Trewarne told the court Abdelmalek later contacted the man’s wife.
Mr Norton attacked the credibility of the alleged victim, whose claim of assault was withdrawn by police on Friday after a series of text exchanges he had with Abdelmalek appeared.
‘Is it because of messages like this,’ Mr Norton said. ‘See you told me you loved me last time ha ha ha I never did.’
The respected barrister proceeded to read out a series of bizarre exchanges between the pair indicating they were in an intimate relationship themselves.
‘No-one can forget my smell,’ the alleged victim wrote. ‘I am like a sweet poison.’
Mr Norton claimed the victim was lying about the allegations that saw his client locked up.
Lydia Abdelmalek had 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
Mr Norton became clearly agitated when the detective, who had just got back from annual leave, declared she had not even seen the text exchange between the pair.
‘I’m very considerably troubled by this and I’m going to cease my cross examination,’ Mr Norton told the magistrate.
‘This woman should be released immediately. The approach that has been taken here, is in my submission, an absolute disgrace … the fact that these messages haven’t been considered or read just beggars belief.’
The court heard Abdelmalek is also accused of harassing a female victim through a false social media account.
Those claims are also denied by Abdelmalek, who has since supplied police with an unedited running sheet of her exchanges with the woman.
Mr Norton had hoped to have Abdelmalek released from jail on Friday, but was hampered by a videolink that only lasted 45 minutes.
She will now spend another weekend behind bars as the court works to find another date to continue the hearing.
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
Abdelmalek’s jailing will come as sweet justice to the family of the woman she was convicted of tormenting to death.
Abdelmalek had pretended to be Lewis and used other aliases to stalk seven people for about four years from May 2011.
One of Abdelmalek’s 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 said she felt tortured for the ‘sick fascination, perverse pleasure and unhealthy satisfaction’ of her tormentor.
Another victim said she had turned from the life of the party to a recluse after what the sentencing magistrate described as ‘calculated and cruel’ offending.
Abdelmalek went as far as sending explicit images of the woman and vulgar messages to her father, mother, sister and brother-in-law.
Another woman, who was similarly scammed by the Lewis alias, said the ‘sick mind games’ turned her from the life of the party to a recluse.
The former Home and Away star explained how powerless the catfishing left him, telling the court at an earlier appearance he felt powerless.
‘It kills your vibe, it ruins your day. It makes you feel powerless and it makes you feel s**t,’ he said.
Lifeline 13 11 14
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636