LONDON: An Australian man has been sentenced to three years in jail for an “inherently vicious” attack on a pregnant woman that is thought to have been motivated by Islamophobia.
Stipe Lozina, 44, assaulted Rana Elasmar, 32, in a cafe in Sydney in November 2019 after asking her for money. He knocked her onto the floor, striking her at least 14 times and stamping on her head.
Before attacking Elasmar, who was 38 weeks pregnant at the time and was wearing a hijab, Lozina had shouted that “Muslims” had attacked his mother.
“I made a conscious decision to turn my abdomen away from his punches,” Elasmar said. “I wanted to protect my baby.”
Lozina was restrained by members of the public before his arrest. “If nobody intervened, I could have been killed,” Elasmar said.
Lozina, who the court noted had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, chose to represent himself at the trial, interrupting court proceedings — held via video link — several times and “frequently” lapsing into “incoherent rants,” local media reported.
Judge Christopher Craigie said Lozina was “obviously unwell” and held “obsessive” opinions about Muslims.
“The assault was one with a grave potential to cause very serious harm to both the victim and her unborn child,” Craigie said during sentencing on Thursday.
Elasmar’s baby was born safely later in 2019, but she noted that though she had been spared major physical trauma, she had suffered psychologically in the aftermath of the attack.
“Islamophobia needs to end,” she said, adding that she has avoided going out in public since her ordeal. “Violence against women needs to stop.”