Neighbours star and model Madeleine West wept in court as her former father-in-law testified against her – wiping away tears and blowing her nose – as details emerged of the alleged incident that led to her being hit with a restraining order.
Wearing a brown and black batik patterned dress with sandals, and her long blonde hair combed out, Ms West, 42, sat by a box of tissues in Byron Bay Local Court on Tuesday.
Her father-in-law Benny Clifton Bennett, 75 – the father of celebrity chef and sometime MasterChef guest judge Shannon Bennett – sat in the witness box as the court was shown five reels of CCTV footage from his son’s home on May 4 last year.
In the footage, Ms West can be seen arriving to collect one of her daughters from the house.
Wearing a bright blue shirt and white shorts, she can be seen coming to the front door and being let by Mr Bennett in through the front fence and into the house, from which she emerges with a child.
In one of the videos, Ms West appears to be having a lengthy and animated conversation at the front door.
Neighbours’ star Madeleine West arrives at Byron Bay court for hearing over violence order taken against her by police
After she leaves, Mr Bennett senior goes out of the house and stands on the grass talking with someone in a black vehicle, believed to be Ms West, before she drives off.
Under cross-examination by Ms West’s lawyers, Mr Bennett agreed his son Shannon Bennett had given CCTV footage to the police for the day in question – when the chef had been away in the US.
Asked under cross-examination if he had in fact blocked Ms West from contacting him by text on the day of the alleged AVO incident, Mr Bennett said he couldn’t remember.
He agreed he lived in Victoria and came to Byron to help his son with the children and to see his grandchildren.
Magistrate Stafford declined a prosecution application to have a more recent statement by Mr Bennett about his feelings regarding Ms West admitted into evidence.
At court earlier this morning, West’s lawyer pushed for the court case between the pair to be delayed – prompting Magistrate Karen Stafford to order West’s and Bennett’s lawyers to reach an agreement about when the case would go forward.
Speaking about the exchange between Mr Bennett and West on the day in question, Ms Stafford said: ‘He’s got fears. Are there reasonable grounds for his fears?
Benny Clifton Bennett (above), the father of MasterChef guest judge Shannon Bennett, is seen appearing at Byron Bay court on Tuesday. The court heard he has ‘fears’ about Madeleine West
Mr Bennett is seen walking out of Byron Bay Local Court on Tuesday as he faces court over an AVO against his former daughter-in-law
Mr Benett stared down at the ground as he made his way out of the court
Hours before the court hearing, West took a refreshing swim at a remote quarry in Bangalow, in the Byron Bay hinterland, on Monday
‘Let us, for argument’s sake say that by reason of what happened on May 4, at Border Street when she came back to the premises, she seems to agree she did speak to Benny Bennett at the premises.
‘Put aside the CCTV, Benny Bennett is there. He says (that) she did something and the police said by reasons of what she did they want an AVO.
‘Does the conduct warrant the AVO? Is it necessary for his safety and protection?
‘There’s a chronology of complaint phone calls to Shannon Bennett overseas. This is not a case involving Shannon Bennett.
‘It’s a very discreet episode, there were two people there.
‘The police position is she’s agreed she was there and spoke with Benny Bennett and they had some sort of verbal interaction.
‘I’m not not saying it was domestic violence, but she agrees she was there. She is here to give evidence that he made a complaint.’
Magistrate Stafford ordered West and Mr Bennett’s lawyers to reach an agreement outside the court and return.
Mr Bennett, a retired engineer who wears a hearing aid, was granted the opportunity to testify from a remote room if the hearing did proceed.
On Tuesday morning, West’s lawyer was told by Ms Stafford to ‘get rid of all the irrelevant material’ from affidavits filed on behalf of his client.
West, 42, looked stunning in a bikini as she frolicked in the cool green water
The actress proceeded to cover herself with a layer of soothing mud
West arrived at court with not trace of the mud she caked herself in on Monday
The case was due to proceed the morning after West was photographed taking a swim at a waterhole in Bangalow, in the Byron Bay hinterland yesterday.
West frolicked in the cool green water of Bexhill quarry and then proceeded to cover herself with a layer of soothing mud.
She later posted a photo of herself with a muddy décolletage on social media after the session with the cryptic 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.
In recent days, West has been ferrying children around the Byron Bay Shire from her home in Suffolk Park.
The order was taken out just days after the restaurateur revealed the estranged couple’s six children lived with him at his multi-million dollar beachfront property in Byron Bay.
‘Is there anything more healing than a little ol’ fashioned silliness? #mud,’ she wrote on social media after wading in the swampy conditions
The model-turned-activist visited the swimming hole mid afternoon
Madeleine was completely coated with the help of one of her children
Madeleine was caked from head to toe in the soothing mud
The celebrity chef, who rose to fame on MasterChef Australia, had a 13-year relationship with West which ended in 2018 when Bennett split with the actress.
Bennett revealed in May last year that the separation process between them had ‘turned love toxic’.
However in 2020, West left Melbourne and moved to Byron Bay to be near her children.
The former soap star bought her own mansion in Suffolk Park, paying $4.6million for a four-bedroom house with a heated pool, open plan living, spacious sun-filled living areas and a stunning architectural design.
She is due to face Byron Bay Local Court on Tuesday over the AVO police took out almost a year ago on behalf of her ex-partner’s father
The AVO names Benny Clifton Bennett, a retired engineer, and the grandfather of West’s six children as the protected person and Madeleine West as the defendant
The actress and her former father-in-law are due to face each in court on Tuesday for the first of two one-day hearings into an alleged incident almost a year ago in Byron Bay
West and Shannon Bennett’s six children live with the chef full time in the area
The blonde beauty washed off the mud with a relaxing swim
The order was taken out just days after the restaurateur 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, had a 13-year relationship with West
That romance ended in 2018 when Bennett split with the actress
In 2020, West left Melbourne and moved to Byron Bay to be near her children
The former soap star bought her own mansion in the Byron Shire village of Suffolk Park
She paid $4.6 million for a four-bedroom house with a heated pool, open plan living, spacious sun-filled living areas and a stunning architectural design
Since splitting with Bennett, West has been seen with northern NSW environmentalist, Maximo Bottaro.
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.
She posted a photo of herself with a muddy decolletage on social media after the session
Pictured: Madeleine (left) with Shannon Bennett (centre back), his father Benny (right), mother Bridie, front, second left, and Shannon’s brother
Madeleine West and Shannon Bennett are pictured together during their 13-year relationship
Last year, Bennett said that 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.
Bennett 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.
Since splitting with Bennett, West has been seen with northern NSW environmentalist, Maximo Bottaro
Last year, Bennett said that 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
Bennett 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 concluded
‘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’.
Bennett owns prime Byron Bay land he bought from the late entertainment industry entrepreneur John ‘Strop’ Cornell and his wife Delvene Delaney.
He appears to be currently developing the five lot, 4,588 square metre holding on the Belongil Beach peninsula.
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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