The catfish stalker convicted of using a soap star’s profile to harass and stalk women online will remain free on bail until her appeal is heard in October 2020.
Lydia Abdelmalek, who was sentenced to two years and eight months’ jail earlier this month, reappeared in court this morning before her family clashed with media outside.
Her father used an umbrella to shield his daughter from waiting cameras after the appeal hearing in the County Court in Melbourne.
Channel Seven reporter Paul Dowsley emerged with a cut to his head after a scuffle near the family’s car.
Inside, Abdelmalek’s defence lawyer told the court the stalking case was “complex”, involving multiple devices, and a four-week appeal was necessary.
The first date that could be accommodated was October next year – almost 10 years after the stalking began.
Her trial was told Abdelmalek used the profile of Lincoln Lewis, the son of rugby league legend Wally Lewis, to start an online relationship with his childhood friend, Emma*.
Once Emma realised she had been duped, Abdelmalek created a cast of characters, some anonymous, to manipulate and confuse her victim, the Heidelberg Magistrates’ Court heard.
Abdelmalek also used multiple devices to bombard Emma and her family with threatening messages, the court heard.
The stalking left Emma suffering from depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
She died by suicide last year.
During sentencing earlier this month, Abdelmalek held photo printouts of Lewis as the victims detailed the years of trauma and abuse they had endured.
One victim, Jess*, told the court her life had been ruined as a result of Abdelmalek’s stalking.
“I suffer debilitating panic attacks, depression and anxiety,” she said.
“I’m now forever entangled in your sick story of abuse and manipulation.”
Jess had sent a Facebook friend request to a profile set up under Lewis’s name after she met the Home and Away star aboard a flight.
Like Emma, she received a barrage of threatening messages from anonymous accounts after she realised she had been duped.
Jess changed her number multiple times, but her stalker manipulated Optus into handing over contact details.
She also relocated homes and moved her daughter to a new school.
In handing down the sentence, Magistrate Stephen Ballek said the stalking, which occurred for several years, was “calculated and cruel”.
Abdelmalek has shown little emotion throughout the court process and remains on bail.