A pregnant woman who was attacked by a stranger in a Western Sydney cafe last year has told a court she was targeted because she was wearing a hijab.
- Stipe Lozina attacked a pregnant woman he did not know in a cafe
- Lozina was charged with assault and affray and represented himself in court
- The prosecution said the attack was sparked by Islamophobia
Security camera footage of the assault shows 44-year-old Stipe “Stephen” Lozina walk into the Parramatta cafe and speak to Rana Elasmar briefly.
He is then seen leaping across the table and punching Ms Elasmar several times to the head and body with both fists, knocking her to the ground.
Mr Lozina then stomped on the pregnant woman before bystanders dragged him off.
In court, the 32-year-old mother and former school teacher tearfully spoke of the fear she had felt for her unborn child.
“I made a conscious decision to turn my abdomen away from his punches, I wanted to protect my baby,” she said.
She said the next few days before her child was born were a rollercoaster because she could not feel the baby moving.
The court heard Mr Lozina had asked Ms Elasmar for cash and when she refused shouted: “Muslim’s wrecked my mum”, before launching the attack.
In sentencing submissions, the prosecution argued the attack was inspired by Islamophobia and a belief that someone of the same religion as Ms Elasmar had wronged Mr Lozina’s mother.
Ms Elasmar said not only was she physically injured but the psychological impacts felt by herself and her young children would be long lasting.
“How do I explain to my daughter why this man hit me?” she said.
Mr Lozina appeared in the proceedings from custody via video link after insisting on representing himself throughout, declining to use Legal Aid.
District Court Judge Stephen Handley said if he had the power to compel offenders to make use of legal representation he would have exercised it with Mr Lozina.
Judge Handley will deliver his sentence next month and said he will consider mental illness, the seriousness of the offence, the necessity of deterrence and the harm caused to the victim.
“I will also have to consider, frankly, the harm that is done to a tolerant and multicultural country like ours if this type of conduct goes unpunished or inadequately punished,” he said.