Judge's scathing attack on Neighbours star Madeleine West
Madeleine West is slammed by judge as she’s ordered to stay away from her celebrity chef husband’s Byron Bay mansion for two years: ‘Evasive, aggressive and scary’
- Neighbours star Madeleine West cops AVO
- Magistrate’s scathing attack as she rules on 2 year ban
Neighbours star Madeleine West has been described as ‘evasive, almost aggressive and frightening’ in a scathing attack by a magistrate who ordered the model to stay away from her father-in-law who had reason to fear her.
Magistrate Karen Stafford also gave West a stern warning to comply with the ban or face up to two years in jail.
Active immediately, the two-year Apprehended Violence Order imposed to protect Benny Clifton Bennett from West includes banning her from going near celebrity Masterchef Shannon Bennett’s house whenever his dad is visiting.
Weeping as she appeared on video link in Byron Bay Local Court on Tuesday, West was harshly criticised for the evidence she gave last week during the police application for the AVO on 75-year-old Bennett’s behalf.
A magistrate has now granted a two year AVO against Madeleine West, 42 (above) warning her that if she approaches and harasses the father of celebrity chef Shannon Bennett she could be jailed for up to two years
Benny Clifton Bennett (above), the father of MasterChef guest judge Shannon Bennett, has been granted a two year AVO against his former daughter-in-law, Madeleine West
The magistrate told West she was ‘not a reliable witness’ and unfavourably described her conduct during the encounter with Mr Bennett on May 4 last year, which was caught on CCTV.
Ms Stafford warned West not to ‘physically harm’ Mr Bennett and to refrain from ‘threatening him or harassing him, damaging his property or harming his animals’ and that she ‘must not go into any place he’s living or working including (Shannon Bennett’s Byron Bay property).
‘If there is a breach, the police may charge you with the criminal offence of contravene Apprehended Domestic Violence Order and you could face up to two years in jail.’
West was not charged but during the May 2022 altercation was alleged to have pushed her ex-father-in-law and forced her way into her ex-husband’s home before dragging away an 11-year-old girl.
On Tuesday, Ms Stafford said CCTV footage of the incident showed West’s ‘demeanour is almost verging on being aggressive.
‘The CCTV clearly shows a huge difference in the demeanour in both of the parties.
‘(The CCTV) shows her almost dragging that child off that property. She did barge her way through door, when it appears she had been refused entry.
‘It certainly appeared she had a grip on (the child’s wrist) and was almost dragging the child … off the property.
‘In many of the scenes, (Mr Bennett) is holding his two hands out, his arms up, his head is bowed, shrugging his shoulders, almost in defensive resignation by this man she she was not listening to what he is saying.
‘In contrast, as soon as the gate is open… (West is) assertive almost aggressive. She did barge her way into a door that is closing, strides forcefully up the path to the house followed by Benny Bennett who looks quite downcast.
‘She does seem to be grabbing on to the child, almost forcing the child (who was) sick and needed to be looked after, and yet she strides at a very fast pace, expecting this child to follow her very speedy pace down the path and the child is almost stumbling to keep up with her.
The magistrate said but for one inconsistency she found Benny Bennett ‘to be a reliable witness. I did not find her to be a reliable witness.
‘(Mr Bennett) fears returning to that property, he fears staying at the property if his grandchildren are there because … he would be the meat in the sandwich.
‘He does fear his daughter-in-law’s if she is there and the children are as well.’
Madeleine West leaves Byron Bay Court last week after a hearing into an AVO against her protecting her ex-father-in-law Benny Bennett, at his celebrity chef son, Shannon Bennett’s, Byron Bay house
Madeleine West and Shannon Bennett are pictured together during their 13-year relationship which produced six children but ended in dispute
Ms Stafford said of Madeleine West under cross-examination: ‘I found her to be evasive. I found her to minimise her conduct’.
She concluded that ‘I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that Benny Bennett has these fears, not of personal violence … but of conduct amounting to intimidation, including harassment or molestation, disturbance, pestering or repeated troubling and he feels this will occur if he is staying with the children.
‘I am satisfied he fears if visiting his grandchildren he will be harassed by (Madeleine West).
In the footage, West could be seen arriving in a bright blue shirt and white shorts before a confrontation, after which she is seen leaving with a child.
In one video, West appears to be engaged in an animated conversation at the entrance to the home, before putting her hand on the front door.
West denied forcing entry or pushing Mr Bennett, last week telling a police prosecutor she ‘didn’t lay a hand’ on Benny Bennett, the grandfather of her six children with Shannon Bennett.
Shannon was married to West for 13 years before their acrimonious split in 2018.
The court heard that in the wake of the alleged incident, Mr Bennett said, ‘I can’t put up with what she does’, referring to West’s behaviour around his grandchildren.
Pictured in happier times: Madeleine (left) with Shannon Bennett (centre back), his father Benny (right), mother Bridie, front, second left, and Shannon’s brother
Hours before last week’s court hearing, West took a refreshing swim at a remote quarry in Bangalow, in the Byron Bay hinterland
The court heard that, although Benny Bennett lives in Victoria, he regularly visits his grandchildren at Shannon Bennett’s home in Byron Bay.
After the alleged incident in May last year, the court heard that Mr Bennett said he would no longer make such visits.
‘I won’t do it any more , I’ll just tell my my son, at my age, it’s very stressful,’ the court heard he said.
‘I don’t want to put the kids through anything. It affects them. I’ll only go up when Shannon is there. I can’t be the meat in the middle.’
The actress proceeded to cover herself with a layer of soothing mud at Bexhill quarry near Belanglo
The hearing at which West’s testimony has been described as ‘not reliable’ was held a day after West was photographed taking a swim at Bangalow, in the Byron Bay hinterland, and covering herself in ‘healing’ mud.
She later posted a photo of herself with a muddy décolletage on social media with the caption ‘Is there anything more healing than a little ol’ fashioned silliness? #mud’.
The model turned activist turned up at the swimming hole mid-afternoon wearing a denim mini-dress with a group of children.
The interim AVO which has now been confirmed was taken out just days after the Shannon Bennett revealed the estranged couple’s six children lived with him at his multi-million dollar beachfront property in Byron Bay.
The celebrity chef, who rose to fame on MasterChef Australia, revealed in May last year that the separation process between he and West had ‘turned love toxic’.
In 2020, West left Melbourne and moved to Byron Bay to be near her children, buying her own $4.6 million mansion in Suffolk Park.
More recently, the actress and podcaster revealed she was a child sexual abuse victim.
Speaking publicly for the first time about her battle with anorexia, she said the trauma of being abused caused her to become obsessed with looking ‘perfect’ – a task that was both ‘punishing’ and never-ending.
‘For every sexually abused person, what has happened to them will manifest in their life in some self-destructive behaviour,’ she said earlier this year.
Since splitting with Bennett, West has been seen with northern NSW environmentalist, Maximo Bottaro
Last year, Shannon Bennett said West saw their children fortnightly, while they spend the remainder of the time with him.
‘The kids live with me full time and they visit their mother every fortnight for a few days,’ he revealed.
He added that while the former Neighbours star is not the children’s primary caretaker, the pair work together to give them as much normality as possible.
‘At the end of the day it’s about the children. I feel on this that my children’s lives are private and I’m the protector of that,’ he said.
‘I’ll do anything I can to ensure they get to grow as normally as possible with no distractions’, the chef added.
‘I think I’m doing a good job of that, it’s good she’s doing that too’.
Shannon Bennett owns prime Byron Bay land he bought from the late entertainment industry entrepreneur John ‘Strop’ Cornell and his wife Delvene Delaney.
WHO IS MADELEINE WEST?
Madeleine West is an actress and model who first came to prominence playing the characters Dee Bliss and then Andrea Somers on the TV hit series Neighbours, the first role in the early 2000s and the second between 2017 and 2020.
During filming of Neighbours , West was hit by a bus and sustained head injuries which required her to relearn motor skills.
An amateur performer as a child, West has also appeared in the TV series Underbelly and Fat Tony & Co.
West was once engaged to Shopping for Love co-host Peter Lazer, before moving on to restaurateur Shannon Bennett, who became best known for his appearances on MasterChef.
The couple met in 2005 and had six children together before splitting in 2018, in which Bennett described as a case of love turned ‘toxic’.
West wrote a book about her experience of motherhood entitled Six Under Eight..
Despite her split with Bennett, West relocated to Byron in 2020 and bought a $4.6m home to be nearer her children, who live with the chef at his waterfront Byron estate.
In 2022 West announced she might run in the 2023 NSW election as an independent for the seat of Ballina, but she did not nominate.
In January 2023, West revealed that she had been sexually abused as a child and the trauma she had gone through had resulted on her suffering from anorexia.
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