Orpheus Pledger: Manhunt for Home and Away star who escaped police to go on the run moments before he faced assault charges

A former Home and Away star is on the run from police after he escaped from custody moments before he faced court on assault charges.

Orpheus Pledger, 30, was escorted by police to Royal Melbourne Hospital, near the city’s CBD, about 3.30am on Tuesday to undergo a mental health assessment.

But a court heard he still had not been seen by doctors by about 9.10am, when he is alleged to have just got up and walked out, in breach of his bail conditions.

Pledger now remains at large with police launching a manhunt for him after a warrant for his arrest was issued.

The escape came after Melbourne Magistrate Justin Foster fumed that he had ‘bent over backwards’ to approve the hospital visit on Monday.

The former actor – who played Mason Morgan on the soap for 339 episodes from 2016 to 2019 – had been remanded in custody since his arrest on March 27.

The court heard Pledger had been arrested the day after he allegedly assaulted the same woman – who can’t be identified for legal reasons – for a ninth time since 2021.

Security footage of the incident allegedly showed Pledger grabbing her hair and throwing her to the ground before stomping on her head.

Former Home and Away star Orpheus Pledger is on the run from police after escaping from a hospital to receive a mental health assessment while facing assault charges

Pledger had been expected to undergo the assessment in hospital and return to court on Tuesday to have his bail conditions reassessed.

If he was to accept mental health support, he would have appeared via video link, or otherwise appear in person.

When his case was called by Magistrate Foster on Tuesday morning however, he could not be found.

Pledger’s solicitor, Jasper MacCuspie, told the court his client had escaped the hospital after not being seen for almost six hours.

Magistrate Foster had granted the order on Monday to have Pledger assessed when urged by Mr MacCuspie.

His lawyers said the assessment could help ‘mitigate future risks to the community’ and have the accused receive the help ‘experts say he needs’.

But on Tuesday, Magistrate Foster told the court: ‘This makes me query if I will ever grant this order again.’

He said he was also outraged that a suspected mentally-ill patient had been left untreated and unattended for almost six hours. 

Pledger’s bail was revoked and a warrant for his arrest issued. 

The court heard on Monday that a triple-0 call by the alleged victim warned police that Pledger was in the midst of a mental health incident.

The alleged victim was heard saying ‘he’s coming’ before the line cut out, the court was told. 

Pledger is accused of assaulting a woman on March 25 and had been remanded in custody since the following day. He remains at large

Pledger is accused of assaulting a woman on March 25 and had been remanded in custody since the following day. He remains at large 

She allegedly suffered a number of severe injuries from the March 25 incident, including haematomas to her forehead, cuts to her cheek and bruising to her neck, back of the hand and cheek.

She told police that she ‘believes he will eventually kill her’, the court was told, and supports police acting on the alleged assaults. 

Police prosecutor Olivia Sparrow recommended that Pledger remain in custody as he is a ‘unacceptable risk’ to the community while homeless and allegedly suffering drug and mental health issues.

Ms Sparrow also opposed an in-patient mental health assessment order made during a bail hearing last week, as staff can’t physically prevent him from leaving.

Magistrate Foster also aired his concerns over the order as it meant he could leave without being apprehended.

‘Clinically he might get on his drugs and whatever treatment he needs and show improvement. Then he can be released into the community,’ he said.

‘The risk of something further happening and having dire consequences is striking.’

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