Man who assaulted pregnant stranger jailed

Rana Elasmar and husband Azzam (right) fear her attacker will hurt others when released.
Rana Elasmar and husband Azzam (right) fear her attacker will hurt others when released.

A man who viciously attacked a heavily pregnant Muslim woman in a Sydney cafe has been jailed for at least two years.

But Rana Elasmar and her husband fear Stipe "Steven" Lozina, who was removed from his sentence hearing after disrupting court in a racist outburst, will hurt others when released.

"The victim suffers with the consequences far longer than the time the offender serves," Ms Elasmar said outside Parramatta District Court on Thursday.

"It's worrying that he's still displaying aggressive behaviour and a short temper."

When asked if he thought Lozina's maximum sentence of three years in prison was inadequate, Azzam Elasmar said "absolutely".

"Thinking about this guy potentially being on the streets within two years is a safety hazard for the community, it puts everyone at risk," Mr Elasmar said.

"This guy can definitely re-offend."

Rana Elasmar was 38-weeks' pregnant when Lozina approached her, punched her several times and then stomped on her head at Parramatta's Bay Vista in November 2019.

The 32-year-old mother of four deliberately turned her abdomen away from her attacker and prayed for God to protect her child as she feared being killed.

Ms Elasmar, who was wearing a hijab at the time, said the 44-year-old first asked for money before assaulting her and yelling "you Muslims raped my mum".

Lozina appeared via video link before Judge Christopher Craigie, but was muted after repeating this assertion several times.

Judge Craigie then removed the unrepresented man from the hearing after continued disruption.

Lozina had in a previous hearing interrupted crown prosecutor Sara Gul to ask her about her racial background.

Judge Craigie said Lozina hit Ms Elasmar about 14 times in a "very dynamic and swift outburst of violence" while she "cowered in terror".

The fact Ms Elasmar and her unborn child survived, he said, came through good fortune and the intervention of others, rather than any restraint from Lozina.

"The victim was justifiably terrified," Judge Craigie said.

Lozina previously said he attacked Ms Elasmar because she did not give him money but deflected several questions from Ms Gul about whether he hated Muslims.

"I don't hate them," the accused eventually said.

"But I don't get on with them. I have no business with them."

The offender also said he was a "chronic paranoid schizophrenic", felt remorseful for what happened and was "too violent" to walk free in public.

"I belong in a hospital," he told the court in September.

Lozina, who rejected Legal Aid representation on several occasions, will be eligible for parole in June 2022.

Ms Elasmar said it was "nerve-racking" to sit in court, listen to him and re-live the assault.

But she felt relieved to finish the court process and said her son Zayn was "happy and healthy" despite the incident.

"I've been verbally abused before because of my religion, but this has cemented that the Australian public is really supportive," Ms Elasmar said.

"It's given me confidence to walk out again and wear my hijab.

"It's been a positive in showing that Islam is not something to be feared."

Australian Associated Press