‘Attempt to hoodwink the court’: Craig McLachlan’s lawyer hits out at alleged assault victim’s testimony

Save articles for later

Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.

Craig McLachlan's lawyer claims two women conspired against his client before indecent assault charges were laid against the prominent Australian actor.

During a heated final day of submissions in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday, defence lawyer Stuart Littlemore, QC, accused two women – who were working with Mr McLachlan during a 2014 stage show – of colluding against his client before going to the media and then the police with their accusations of indecent assault.

Australian actor, Craig McLachlan leaving his lawyer’s chambers earlier this month.Credit:Rhett Wyman

Mr Littlemore said one of the women then later used her skills as a trained actress to "artfully" present herself in the witness box in court with dishevelled hair, no makeup, a white blouse buttoned to the throat and soft voice.

"That was an attempt to hoodwink the court and it would be regrettable if it succeeded," Mr Littlemore said.

Mr Littlemore also accused one of the alleged victims of "maliciously fabricating" her evidence, telling the court a series of on-stage kisses were part of his client's "employment duty" and not an act of assault.

"There can be in all the years of this court few such strong examples of an attempt by two women to pervert the course of justice by false corroboration of an event. This is as serious as it gets," Mr Littlemore said.

The defence claims came as part of its 158-page written submissions presented to the court in which lawyers for Mr McLachlan, 55, referred to some of his alleged victims as being captured on camera in various "slutty" and "lesbian" poses.

But magistrate Belinda Wallington rejected the accusations: "I just don't see it as a justified criticism, quite frankly".

Mr McLachlan now faces a five-week wait before Ms Wallington hands down her verdict.

During Monday's hearing, Crown prosecutor Matt Fisher was also scathing at what he said were "inflammatory, inappropriate remarks" made by the defence and dismissed suggestions of collusion, telling the court the women went independently to the police with the aim of protecting others.

He said the women's report came around the time of the "MeToo" movement, when women were being empowered and encouraged to speak out against their experiences of unwarranted sexual and indecent acts.

"That's an old-school submission, there's no basis, it belongs in the Dark Ages, Your Honour," Mr Fisher said.

Mr McLachlan is accused of touching one woman near her genitals during a live stage show in Melbourne, 2014 when he was hidden but she could be seen by the audience. He is also accused of indecently assaulting three other women around the same time.

Mr Fisher argued the reason the women did not report the incidents to police immediately was due to the power imbalance Mr McLachlan held and the strong relationship he had with producers who knew he would draw a healthy crowd being part of the production.

"There was a very real power imbalance. That cannot be underestimated," Mr Fisher said.

"All four of them gave evidence of not complaining not speaking up, in part because of their perception of the accused's role in the show, the power that he had.

"[But] they were concerned about what the accused man had done to them, they were concerned about what he might do to others. That was the motivation."

Mr McLachlan, a Gold Logie winner who is famous for his roles in Neighbours and Home and Away, has pleaded not guilty to six counts of indecent assault and seven of common law assault. He denies some allegations ever occurred but says other incidents – such as kissing some women on the lips – happened but were consensual and not indecent.

Ms Wallington will hand down her verdict on December 15.

If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), Lifeline 131 114, or Beyond Blue 1300 224 636.

Most Viewed in National

Source: Read Full Article