Woman avoids jail for assault on teenager

A Woonona woman will avoid time behind bars for a vicious assault on a 12-year-old girl in broad daylight in Wollongong's CBD.

Eureka Melita Russell, 39, pleaded guilty to a charge of affray stemming from the April 29 incident, in which the young victim was repeatedly punched and kicked.

Wollongong Local Court heard Russell was sitting at the bus shelter outside Greater Union Cinema on Burelli Street around midday when she caught sight of the girl and a friend walking down the stairs of the cinema.

The pair noticed Russell at the same time, and began to run across the road.

Russell gave chase, catching up with the girl on the southern footpath and tackling her to the ground.

Russell then punched the victim four times before kicking and kneeing her in the head.

The pair continued to scuffle, prompting members of the public to try to intervene.

Police documents tendered to the court said at that stage Russell momentarily retreated to the bus shelter before she swung around and ran back to the victim once more, kicking her sharply in the leg.

Russell then landed one more punch to the girl's head before she managed to escape to nearby MacCabe Park. The victim went to the youth centre where emergency services were alerted.

She was taken to hospital for treatment to bruising and cuts to her left eye area, and cuts to her arms and legs.

Police arrested Russell the following day.

The court heard she was shocked when told the girl was only 12 years old.

"F---, are you serious, she is only 12? I thought she was 22," Russell told police.

"How am I going to repent for this ... what have I done?"

However, Russell displayed less remorse over the incident in court on Tuesday, interrupting her lawyer to suggest that the victim should be the one before the court on charges, not her.

Despite that, Magistrate Geraldine Beattie accepted submissions from Russell's lawyer that she believed the victim was substantially older.

But she said that still did not excuse her behaviour.

"There's obviously some sort of history between the two of you, but the actions by you were uncalled for," Magistrate Beattie said.

"Nothing justifies that sort of behaviour."

She sentenced Russell to nine months' jail but agreed to suspend the sentence on condition Russell accept supervision from community corrections officers, including attending anger management counselling.

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