Home and Away star praised for stopping vicious assault
A SYDNEY judge has praised the bravery of a promising Aussie actor who rescued a young woman from a violent would-be robber as he sentenced the man to at least two years behind bars.
Rising Home And Away star Orpheus Pledger saved the "extremely petite" woman from a hooded predator last April after spotting the suspicious man stalking her through Sydney's inner-city streets one night.
Justin Bird ran up behind the lone woman, grabbed her around the neck and hurled her backwards into the pavement on April 28, Downing Centre District Court heard.
"She hit her head very hard on the roadway … her right shoe flew off," Judge Ian McClintock said yesterday.
The schizophrenic homeless man was crouched over the screaming woman grabbing at her handbag when the "brave" Pledger confronted her attacker, the judge said.
Pledger said he "felt pretty frightened but the adrenaline kicked in" and he pinned Bird against a car, yelling "oi, stop".
"He was trying to run away, but I had a hold of this guy, telling him 'you're not going anywhere'," Pledger previously told The Daily Telegraph.
Bird was convicted of aggravated assault with intent to rob and yesterday the 28-year-old was handed a four-and-a-half year prison term with a non-parole period of two years and three months.
"The victim was a vulnerable young woman who was obviously entitled to be able to walk the streets without fear," Judge McClintock said.
"She was indeed fortunate to have Mr Pledger intervene.
"He is to be commended for … preventing any further injuries."
Pledger, who plays student doctor Mason Morgan in the hit Channel 7 soap, has revealed he still fears what may have happened to the woman had he not trusted his instincts.
The 25-year-old said he'd been walking home from the gym when he decided to follow Bird for a few blocks after seeing him acting strangely in Surry Hills.
"My gut told me something was up," he said.
The court heard Bird expressed remorse but maintained he'd mistaken the 152cm woman for a mate who owed him money, which the judge said "verges on the ludicrous".
Bird has abused marijuana, acid and ice and has a long criminal history, serving time for threatening his mother with a knife, Judge McClintock said.
He said Bird would need ongoing treatment upon release.