Newton says ‘sorry’

Matthew Newton sat in front of 60 Minutes journalist Liz Hayes in what was billed as a ‘confession’ – a means to purge his soul. Newton has hit the headlines several times over the last few years for acts of violence, which he attributes to his, as yet, undiagnosed mental illness.

Newton’s first fall from grace came when he was charged with assaulting his then girlfriend Brooke Satchwell in 2007. In 2010 he hit the headlines again for alleged violence against his fiancée Rachel Taylor, and a Sydney taxi driver felt his wrath in 2011. Even a move overseas couldn’t keep him out of the headlines, when in 2012, he was arrested for hitting a hotel clerk in the face in Miami.

Although Newton has never officially been diagnosed with a mental illness, he has repeatedly avoided conviction on the grounds of mental illness, specifically quoting bipolar to be at the root of his problems.  

The actor’s behaviour also caused a rift between himself and his parents, Bert and Patti. Despite claiming during the interview to have “embraced his family” during a stint at the Betty Ford Clinic in Palm Springs, they claim to have known nothing about his television appearance until they saw the promos. The Newtons have been part of the Channel 9 stable for many years yet Patti said, “I don’t know anything about the interview, I haven’t seen it – I don’t know its content and didn’t even know it was on until the promos came on”.

Watch the interview for yourself.

Opinion: Is forgiveness a given for the famous?

For everyday folk who mess up, forgiveness usually means fronting up to those you have wronged and begging for forgiveness. Sometimes this works, sometimes it takes more than one try, and sometimes you just have to walk away knowing the damage you have done is irreparable. It appears these rules don’t apply to celebrities.

For years those in the public eye who have messed up simply get their manager to set up an interview with the most powerful media player of the day. The interview is carefully scripted, the tears and anguish choreographed and the interviewer suitably convinced that what has been said is the truth.

Lance Armstrong was the first such personality to plead his case to the general public via Oprah Winfrey’s television channel. And just two months into the new year, we now have Matthew Newton pulling the same stunt – and yes, I do mean stunt.

Not one word of what Matthew Newton said last night gave me any reason to believe this bully was sorry. The victims of his acts of violence have always been ‘weaker’. Two women, a taxi driver and an unsuspecting hotel clerk are those who have faced the wrath of ‘mentally ill’ Newton. Yet, when faced with authority and the strong arm of the law, the attacker soon takes on the meeker role of the ‘victim’.

It’s not just by violent acts that Matthew has hurt those frailer than himself. His parents, Bert and Patti Newton, have struggled to come to terms with their son’s behaviour and despite standing by him they have been shunned. Matthew did not think to pick up the phone and tell his parents that he was planning this interview and the first they heard was when the promos started appearing on television. Surely if you’re truly sorry then you front those who mean the most to you, in person and beg for another chance.

The only part of the interview I found interesting was that he admitted his mental illness had never properly been diagnosed, yet this is the defence he has used on several occasions to avoid prosecution. Could such an admission come back to haunt him?

As we prepare for yet another case of a superstar taking violence to the extreme, I can’t help but wonder if Oscar Pistorius will soon be on our television screens ‘begging for forgiveness’.

Is it enough for the fallen famous to appear on television and expect forgiveness? Or should they serve more penance before being accepted back into our hearts?

Written by Debbie McTaggart