Ex-Home and Away star admits assault after manhunt

Tara Cosoleto |

A former Home and Away star who led police on a three-day manhunt has admitted dragging a woman by the hair and stomping on her head.

Orpheus Pledger, 31, faced Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday via video link, pleading guilty to repeatedly assaulting the woman in March.

He was bailed on April 22 on the condition he undergo a court-ordered mental health assessment but he absconded from the hospital the next morning.

A warrant was issued for his arrest but he continued to evade police until he was remanded in custody on April 25.

Pledger, who appeared on Home and Away between 2016 and 2019, remained silent on Monday morning as details of the violent assaults were read to the court.

Shortly after midnight on March 1, Pledger kicked and punched the victim in the face after she raised concerns about his drug use and declining mental health.

He then assaulted the same woman about 1.35am on March 25, dragging her by the hair and stomping on her face.

The victim had called triple zero when he arrived at the property and police reached the house at 1.50am to find her lying on the floor in pain.

She was taken to hospital with multiple bruises and cuts to her face and neck, with the marks matching the sole of Pledger’s shoe.

Pledger’s lawyer Jasper MacCuspie described the assaults as serious but said they were “profoundly mundane” for the magistrates court.

There were no excuses for his actions but Pledger’s mental health had declined and use of methamphetamine increased after he was rejected from a role in the US television series The 100, Mr MacCuspie said.

His lack of work strained his relationship with the woman and led to the assaults, the lawyer said.

“He certainly feels terrible about what has happened and the impact it has had on (the woman),” Mr MacCuspie told the court.

Pledger has already served 94 days of pre-sentence detention and faced extensive media scrutiny of his crimes so specific deterrence was less relevant, Mr MacCuspie said.

But Acting Sergeant Fionnula Kennedy argued the attacks were serious and not trivial so it was open to the magistrate to sentence Pledger to more jail time.

Magistrate Justin Foster ordered Pledger undergo assessments for his mental health and a community corrections order.

He is due to be sentenced on Wednesday.

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