Australia: Teenage girl sentenced to one year in jail for assault on pregnant woman with a pram

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A 15-year-old girl has been sentenced to 12 months in detention for assaulting a pregnant woman with a pram in Perth's eastern suburbs.

WARNING: This story has details that some readers may find distressing.

Perth Children's Court heard the teenager had been released on bail just two days before her attack on the 37-year-old woman in Ashfield on September 5.

In his sentencing, Children's Court president Hylton Quail described how the girl attacked the woman from behind, wrenching her hair and pulling her violently backward onto the ground.

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He said her actions caused the pram to be up-ended with two-year-old twin girls left flailing on their backs, legs up to the sky.

"At that point [the girl] was out of control and unrestrained," he said, describing how she then dragged the woman a further 15 metres along the road and threatened to hit her with her scooter.

CCTV footage of the assault was released by WA Police as part of its investigation.

Later that day the girl stole a mobile phone from an 11-year-old girl.

Victims 'alone, vulnerable'

The teenager pleaded guilty to a total of six charges of robbery or stealing, most involving violence and all occurring in late August and early September.

The victims were all female, aged from 11 years old to 66 years old, and as Judge Quail described, they were all "alone, vulnerable and targeted".

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On August 31 a woman was walking home from work when the girl followed her and hit her on the shoulder with her scooter, knocking her to the ground and stealing her handbag.

Earlier, the court heard that victim had been too scared to provide a victim impact statement.

In another case, a delivery driver was attacked while in her parked car in Midvale.

The court heard many of the offences were committed with one of the girl's cousins.

This included the theft of a 66-year-old woman's phone and an attempt to steal a 34-year-old woman's necklaces as she walked in Midland.

The teenager had appeared in court on September 3 charged with four offences when she was granted bail and went on to commit the further two offences two days later.

The girl's lawyer said her client carried "significant shame" due to the publicity associated with the Ashfield attack and said she would not have done it had she known she was pregnant.

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Teen takes the stand

Prior to her sentencing, a trial of issues was held in relation to two of the offences, the attack in Ashfield on September 5 and the earlier attack on the woman on August 31.

The 15-year-old, who took the stand, said her cousin, who is 18 months younger than her, had told her to hit the women in both instances.

"Why did you do what [your cousin] told you to do," the girl's lawyer asked her.

"I dunno, I just listened to her," the girl replied.

When questioned by the prosecutor, the teenager lashed out verbally.

"You didn't have to do what [your cousin] said," he put to her.

"I had everything going on in my head, youse [sic] #&*^ don't know."

When Judge Quail asked what she meant by what was going on in her head she said she had smoked marijuana.

Right before beginning his sentencing, Judge Quail spoke directly to the girl and told her he believed her in that her cousin had suggested the crimes but said it did not make her any less responsible or culpable for them.

He described the pair as being a bad influence over each other.

Violence normalised in teenager's life

Judge Quail spent more than an hour delivering his sentencing remarks, during which he said it was clear to him that the girl's behaviour and "unrestrained violence" was entirely explained by the upbringing she has had.

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He explained how violence had been normalised within her family from a young age, and both parents had spent parts of her childhood in prison.

Immediately before her offending, the girl had moved out of her mother's home, after an altercation between the two as her mother had been jealous of her partner's interest in her daughter.

Judge Quail said the only family left that was willing to have the girl was her father, who he said had an authoritarian approach to her behaviour.

"Living with her father carries the risk of [the girl] being subject to serious physical discipline if she doesn't comply with her father's rules," he said.

Reading from a report conducted by a psychiatrist on the girl, he said the doctor had determined she needed security, safety, routine, safe living standards and care.

He described her time so far in Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre, of which Judge Quail has been outspoken and critical of in recent times, as having provided limited rehabilitation but said the severity of the crimes demanded immediate detention.

The teenager has already been detained in Banksia Hill for 83 days.

He sentenced her to 12 months for the attack on the pregnant woman, six months for the attack with the scooter on the woman in August and time served for the other four offences.

Judge Quail determined they should be served together, and she was sentenced to 12 months in total.

With time served she will be eligible for parole in three months.

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