Parents jailed for Warrawong attack

Schoolyard violence: The entrance to Warrawong High School on Cowper Street, Warrawong.
Schoolyard violence: The entrance to Warrawong High School on Cowper Street, Warrawong.

A couple has been jailed over a brutal Warrawong schoolyard brawl, with a magistrate slamming their decision to seek violent retribution against their daughter's alleged bully.

The pair, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were sentenced to six months' jail yesterday but they were granted bail, pending an appeal against the sentence.

Jailing the couple, Magistrate Les Mabbutt sent a clear message that schoolyard violence would not be tolerated.

"The community expects that children at school should be protected from violence," he told Wollongong Local Court.

"Society clearly indicates that adults assaulting children, to the extent that they are sent to hospital, because of a dispute with their own children is not something that will be tolerated.

"Adults are expected to behave better than this when children [are] around ... this was a disturbing incident where other children and adults were forced to observe this level of violence ... no penalty other than jail is appropriate."

The pair, who pleaded guilty to affray, assaulted the 15-year-old girl and her younger brother outside Warrawong High School on February 20 last year.

The girl was waiting in the car park after school when the couple started arguing with her.

The woman then grabbed the girl's hair and repeatedly punched her, knocking her to the ground.

When the girl's younger brother ran to defend her, the woman punched him in the face, splitting his lip.

Her de facto husband, who had been watching the fight, quickly ran in and pulled his partner off the girl.

However, he then grabbed the teen by the hair and shook her, tugging her like a "rag doll".

The semi-conscious girl was taken to Wollongong Hospital suffering a concussion, swelling and bruising.

Just hours before the attack, the couple were asked to leave the school office after they got into a heated discussion about their daughter being bullied.

The man was overheard saying: "If I find out who is saying these things, I will slap their face".

His partner replied: "I'll do more than that", the court was told.

Barrister Bill Lucas, acting for the couple, conceded the matter was serious but said the pair had not intended to cause trouble.

He said the woman had been "pushed to the end of her tether" and had simply reacted to her child being bullied.

She had complained about the abuse but had become increasingly frustrated at the school's inaction and had "lashed out".

The court heard the woman had no record and was unlikely to reoffend.

Mr Lucas conceded the man had a criminal history but argued he was less involved in the attack.

He said the man was undergoing drug, alcohol and anger treatment, had full-time employment and had shown contrition.

Mr Lucas said no arrangements had been made for care of the couple's children while they were in jail.

Magistrate Mabbutt said the court was aware of the long-term effects of bullying but it did not give parents the right to use physical violence to resolve disputes.

The couple's appeal will be heard on March 15 in Wollongong District Court.