Attacker goes home, victim still suffers

By Riverine Herald

A WOMAN who punched two innocent teens at the Echuca hospital in a drunken rage has avoided a conviction.

Violet Hayes, 20, was ordered to complete 100 hours of community work as part of an 18-month community corrections order (CCO).

Hayes pleaded guilty in Echuca Magistrates Court on Tuesday to recklessly causing injury, unlawful assault and being drunk in a public place.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Paul Bush said Hayes, then 18, burst into the hospital emergency department with her then boyfriend and another woman at 4.20am on April 9 last year, swearing and yelling.

‘‘Two 17-year-old female victims were sitting there when the accused approached them and said ‘what the f**k are you looking at’?’’ he said.

‘‘She then assaulted both victims, punching them to the back of the head.’’

When police attended and spoke to an intoxicated Hayes, Snr Constable Bush said she became abusive and aggressive.

‘‘One of the victims had pain to her head and needed medical treatment and is suffering ongoing neck pain and nausea,’’ he said.

In the girl’s victim impact statement, she wrote how the assault had impacted her physically and psychologically.

She suffered concussion and spent a night in hospital, is seeing a psychologist because of a loss of confidence and anxiety and had to leave school part way through year 12.

‘‘This was a completely innocent person in hospital who you attacked for no good reason,’’ magistrate Patrick Southey said.

‘‘It was a terrible incident.’’

Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service solicitor Andrew Vincent agreed.

‘‘It was an unfortunate incident, she was in Echuca for a family celebration and for things to end this way,’’ he said.

‘‘She was at the hospital with her then partner and had been in an argument when she overreacted and lashed out.

‘‘It is completely uncharacteristic of her and irrational and she is very sorry.’’

The court heard Hayes was also dealt with for an assault matter in a Children’s Court in 2014.

Mr Vincent said since last year’s assault, his Gippsland client had taken a number of steps to address her offending, including checking into an alcohol rehabilitation centre.

Hayes was supported in court by three of her ‘mums’, one of whom apologised for her daughter’s behaviour.

‘‘She is sorry about what she has done and I humbly want to apologise to the young girls she hurt,’’ the woman told the court.

‘‘We are here to give her knowledge and wisdom. She is addressing her issues and, as an elder, I apologise.’’

Mr Vincent asked Mr Southey to put Hayes on a good behaviour bond, considering her young age and the steps she had taken to address her alcohol issues.

However, Mr Southey said that was too lenient considering the aggravating circumstances.

Snr Constable Bush even went as far as to say jail was within range.

‘‘The government has made it clear that alcohol-fuelled street violence should be denounced,’’ he said.

Mr Southey said a non-conviction CCO would allow Hayes to put something back into the community while not harming her future prospects.

‘‘Despite making a terrible mistake, she has a bright future which might amount to great things,’’ he said.

‘‘A conviction might hold her back from that.’’