A Melbourne woman who impersonated an Aussie soap star to prey on unsuspecting women has been jailed for her elaborate scam, but almost immediately granted bail as she appeals the sentence.
Lydia Abdelmalek, 29, was on Thursday sentenced to two years and eight months in prison for six counts of stalking.
She earlier sat in Heidelberg Magistrates Court gripping a photo of Home and Away heart-throb Lincoln Lewis, who she impersonated.
Abdelmalek assumed various aliases, including Lewis, to stalk numerous people for about four years from May 2011.
The victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and their families cried when the stalker was jailed.
But Abdelmalek quickly appealed her sentence and was granted bail with a $10,000 surety. She was ordered to appear in the County Court on June 28.
Before Thursday’s sentencing, victims read statements detailing the relentless cyber bullying.
One victim took her own life last year, but penned a statement in 2016 outlining the trauma of being duped to believe the TV star was in love with her.
“I have been traumatised beyond belief, pounded with relentless abuse over a long period of time,” she wrote in the statement read to court by her sister.
“The sheer extent and intensity of the stalking over three years … has had a devastating and lasting effect on my life.”
She said the stalker “cruelly robbed me of three years of my life in exchange for gaining some perverse pleasure”.
In the statement, the woman said she had contemplated suicide but did not want to become “another statistic”. She died in October 2018.
Abdelmalek went as far as sending explicit images of the woman and vulgar messages to her father, mother and brother-in-law and also threatened to harm them and her niece.
The victim’s sister said justice had arrived too late.
“(It) will never mitigate the life sentence my family have been served … a life without my beautiful sister in it,” she sobbed.
Another woman spoke of how the stalking had turned her from the life of the party to a recluse.
“I feel like I’m unworthy. I’m ashamed of myself and I blame my own stupidity,” she said.
Seeing Lewis, 31, and his father – rugby league great Wally Lewis – in magazines or on TV triggers her post-traumatic stress disorder, she added.
“It’s like I can never get away from what she did to us.”
Abdelmalek had her arm around her mother as the victims spoke and was holding photographs of Lewis.
She showed no emotion as she was led away by prison guards, but returned to court a short time later to launch an appeal.
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