Home杭州楼凤 › Albury-born Prisoner Maggie Kirkpatrick star has appeal upheld

Albury-born Prisoner Maggie Kirkpatrick star has appeal upheld

Prisoner star Maggie Kirkpatrick appears at the County Court. Picture: EDDIE JIM
杭州楼凤

A judge has upheld an appeal by Albury-born Prisonerstar Maggie Kirkpatrick against her conviction for molesting a vulnerable teenage girl more than 30 years ago.

County Court judge Geoffrey Chettle on Tuesday said while Kirkpatrick, 74 – who played lesbian prison officer Joan Ferguson, nicknamed “The Freak”, on the popular 1980s TV show – might have sexually abused the 14-year-old fan in 1984, it could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Judge Chettle said there was no independent evidence to prove the allegations.

“This case is about credibility rather than reliability,” the judge said.

He said the alleged victim, who went to the policein May 2013 to report the alleged abuse,was clearly atroubled and unstable young woman who had given her evidence in a measured and precise way, but he was in a position where Ms Kirkpatrick denied the alleged victim’s claims.

Judge Chettle said Ms Kirkpatrick had given her evidence in a somewhat “flowery style” but she was a woman of previous good characterandher denials had been untouched when cross-examined by the prosecutor.

He said Ms Kirkpatrick had described the allegations when first interviewed by police as “malicious and untrue”.

The judge said it was clear Ms Kirkpatrick was a warm and caring person who had helped young people in the past, which is why she might have decided to invite the girl home.

MsKirkpatrick, who burst into tears after the decision was handed down, had met the teenager while the girl was being treated in a psychiatric hospital for substance abuse and a personality disorder.

Outside court, Ms Kirkpatrick said she was extremely relieved at thedecision.

“I just simply want to thank my legal team, my beautiful family and the hundreds of fans and members of the acting fraternity who stood by me for the last two years,” she said.

“It’s been rather difficult but I’m happy with the result.”

MsKirkpatrick said she was not angry with the woman who had made the abuse allegations against her.

The actress had picked up the girl and taken her to her Prahran house where she cooked her “signature dish”of rabbit stew before they watched the Logie Awards. The girl claimed she was later sexually assaulted in an upstairs bedroom.

The girl claimed she was given a yellow jumper and a signed photograph by Ms Kirkpatrick after being abused.

Ms Kirkpatrick told Judge Chettle on Monday during her appeal that she had taken the girl home because she wanted to give a disturbed person “a little home life”.

“I saw it as a kindness,” Ms Kirkpatrick said.

Ms Kirkpatrick, a grandmother of two based in Sydney, denied abusing the girl.

She claimed on the night in question she sent the girl back to the psychiatric hospital in a taxi after catching her stealing alcohol.

Ms Kirkpatrick had been found guilty by a magistrate in August of two counts of indecent assault and one count of gross indecency with a person under 16. She was sentenced to an 18-month community corrections order involving 100 hours’ unpaid work over 12 months, but appealed the decision.

The girl’s husband told the magistrate his wife had spoken of the offending in 1998 and identified the perpetrator as “the nasty one fromPrisoner”.

Ms Kirkpatrick, who is best known for her role as “The Freak”inPrisoner, has also appeared in other n TV shows, includingHey Dad!,Blue Heelers,Home and Away,All SaintsandWater Rats.

She also recently scored a role as Madame Morrible in the n production of the musicalWicked.

The Age with AAP

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