Petty reason for sickening attack on mum-to-be at a cafe
A man who randomly bashed a heavily pregnant women at a popular western Sydney cafe last year has rambled in court that he did it because she "wouldn't give me a dollar".
In a bizarre rant, Stipe "Stephen"' Lozina told his own sentence hearing on Tuesday he should not be released from custody because he is "too violent" and belongs "in a hospital".
Lozina shocked the nation when he set upon Rana Elasmar as she sat at a table at Parramatta's Bay Vista on November 20, with the sickening attack captured on CCTV.
Mrs Elasmar was 38 weeks pregnant when she was punched in a flurry of blows and dragged from her seat by Lozina, who stomped on her head as shell-shocked friends scrambled to help.
The primary school teacher, 32, was a stranger to the Casula man and had visited the cafe with her girlfriends while wearing a hijab to cap a night out with dessert and coffee.
She told Parramatta District Court this week she believed Lozina was motivated by Islamophobia, recalling how he said "Muslims raped my mum" before he unleashed the attack.
Mrs Elasmar said without the intervention of bystanders Lozina would have killed her.
"As I felt every blow I became aware that he was not willing to stop," she said.
The incident had "destroyed my passion for life" and had left her young children fearing strangers, she said.
"But it has also lit a fire," she said. "Islamophobia needs to end. Violence against women needs to stop."
The court heard Lozina, 43, had approached the group to ask for change after spotting Mrs Elasmar's headscarf before attacking her without warning.
Mrs Elasmar told the court she knew Lozina's "intentions were sinister" as he appeared to be sizing up the women at the table.
As Lozina began to rain down punches, she turned her abdomen away from him and started to pray.
"I remember thinking, 'It's OK, hit my head as long as you don't touch my baby'," she said.
Six weeks earlier Lozina - who has a lengthy history of crime and mental illness - had verbally abused two Muslim women wearing veils at Liverpool Westfield, Crown prosecutor Sara Gul told the court.
He repeatedly refused to answer when pressed if his actions were motivated by a hatred of Muslims.
But when speaking about Muslims generally, Lozina made comments including: "We had a war with them in Bosnia, they burnt our priests alive," he said. "Am I gonna like them?"
He also repeated his claim that his mother had been raped by Muslims for "four years" but told the court he only attacked Mrs Elasmar "because she wouldn't give me a dollar".
"She was sitting at the prominent points of a cafe … if I was a Lebanese man, straight away," he ranted.
He said he felt "remorseful" for his actions, adding he was on the pension and had lost "about 8000 (dollars) for not having it".
Ms Gul told the court it was clear Lozina had a preoccupation with Muslims that bordered on obsession.
Lozina pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm for his attack on Mrs Elasmar, while an additional charge of affray was withdrawn.
On Tuesday, his victim was flanked in court by her husband Azzam Elasmar as Lozina appeared on screen from jail with his face hidden behind a blue medical mask.
He sat with his arms crossed sporting a green prison issue jumper and later removed the mask to reveal a thin goatee; his dark hair had grown out in the months since his arrest.
Lozina confirmed to a concerned Judge Chris Craigie SC that he had declined representation from Legal Aid as he faced sentencing for the dreadful crime.
Judge Craigie had urged the convicted criminal to reconsider his choice, saying it was "extraordinary for anyone to voluntarily appear without the benefit of a lawyer" in such circumstances.
He was asked to confirm if he was adhering to his plea of guilty: "Yes," Lozina replied.
Later, after sitting through Lozina's evidence, the judge told Ms Gul, "If I had the power to compel (Lozina to have a lawyer), I certainly would have exercised it."
Mrs Elasmar, now a mother of four, gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Zayn, three weeks after the attack.
Lozina will be sentenced on October 1.
Originally published as Petty reason for sickening cafe attack