21 Aug 2015

Australian actress to appeal conviction

5:20 pm on 21 August 2015

Australian actress Maggie Kirkpatrick has filed an appeal over her conviction for child sex offences committed 31 years ago.

Maggie Kirkpatrick leaves after being sentenced in Melbourne for historic child sex charges on 21 April 2015.

Maggie Kirkpatrick leaves after being sentenced in Melbourne for historic child sex charges. Photo: AAP

Kirkpatrick, 74, starred in the Australian TV drama Prisoner Cell Block H.

She was found guilty yesterday of two charges of indecent assault and one count of gross indecency with a 14-year-old girl at Kirkpatrick's Prahran home in 1984, after picking up the teenager from a psychiatric hospital.

Her lawyer said Kirkpatrick maintained her innocence.

The case is set to return to court on 11 September.

Kirkpatrick was earlier given an 18-month community corrections order, meaning she would serve her sentence in the community, not prison.

The actress would also be required to complete 100 hours of community service and would be placed on the sex offenders' register for eight years.

In sentencing, Magistrate Peter Mealy said Kirkpatrick had shown no remorse for her actions.

"The victim here was a vulnerable 14-year-old child. The defendant would have known her to be especially vulnerable in view of her being an inpatient at a psychiatric [hospital]," he said.

"The defendant has had the opportunity of watching the unedifying spectacle of the [victim] recounting the offending and being subjected to extensive and vigourous cross examination.

"All along to this point the defendant showed no remorse instead simply protesting at a distance to, in her terms, the untrue and malicious allegations."

The court was earlier told the victim had not reported the abuse until 2013 because she thought everyone would think she was crazy.

The court heard the teenager had organised a meeting with the actor through a person she met while admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Kew, in Melbourne's inner east.

Kirkpatrick collected the girl from the hospital and then the pair went back to the actor's home and shared a meal.

The court heard the pair then ended up in Kirkpatrick's bedroom, where the abuse took place, before the girl was taken back to the hospital.

In a recorded police interview shown in court, Kirkpatrick maintained she had taken the girl home for dinner but did not abuse her.

She said she was giving the teenager "a day out" in an act of "kindness".

Acting career

Kirkpatrick played a warden called Joan, nicknamed the Freak, in Prisoner, a popular series set in a women's prison.

She later appeared in a host of other Australian TV shows and in 1991 played Marilyn's aunt Jean Chambers in Home and Away. Her most recent role was in a stage production of the musical Wicked.