An Australian judge has slammed mother and daughter toilet roll brawlers Treiza and Meriam Bebawy, saying their supermarket brawl was like an on-field rugby league stoush.
Magistrate Peter Bugden said 23-year-old Meriam "took the law into her own hands" in aisle 10 of Chullora Woolworths, in southwest Sydney, on March 7.
He also said that "you can see 61-year-old Treiza ... described as frail ... swinging out towards another person. She's taking a couple of swings".
"I'm reminded of the analogy of rugby league of the first super coach Jack Gibson," he said.
Bugden said when a stoush erupted on the field, Gibson would comment "in his laconic way that you didn't have time for a management meeting beforehand".
Rejecting both women's plea of not guilty by way of self defence, Bugden described the brawl as "a classic affray" caused by Meriam Bebawy and continued by both her and her mother.
"It took place in a very quick time. It was Meriam Bebawy's intent on smashing the toilet paper packet from the other person's hands," he said.
"Meriam and Treiza Bebawy pursued [the victim]. Twenty-three-year-old Meriam took after her in rapid fashion.
"And to use her words, smashed the packet from her hand, tried to pick it up and at that moment the affray commences."
Bugden found both women guilty of affray, saying that they had acted in a violent manner to cause another person fear for their own safety.
Asked to spare both women a criminal conviction, Bugden refused in the case of Meriam Bebawy, convicting her and placing her on a 12-month bond.
Treiza Bebawy did not record a conviction but was placed on a similar good behaviour bond for a year.
The wild scenes of the brawl between the Bebawys and another shopper were described during a hearing last week in which police interviews with both accused were played.
Meriam Bebawy described hitting a woman in the face after "my hands just went flying" when she allegedly had her hair pulled after grabbing back a jumbo pack of Quilton toilet paper from the woman.
Bugden said on Monday when making his judgment that both the police interviews, Woolworths CCTV footage and the testimony of staff were at odds with the Bebawys' claims of self defence.
Woolworths staffers gave evidence of "frightening" scenes of "aggression and violence" after the doors opened and "there were 30 or 40 people just running through the shop to get to that aisle".
In a police interview recorded at Bankstown station after the fight, Meriam Bebawy said she and her mother had grabbed eight large packs of toilet paper because "four is never enough".
This was at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, when toilet paper was sold out at supermarkets across Australia.
"We are not like your average family," Meriam Bebawy told the police, blaming Woolworths staff for the fight, who she described as "mean".
"They all ganged up on us," she said.
In the police interview played last Friday, Meriam described the scenes of pandemonium which ensued when she and her mother piled up the toilet paper into their shopping trolley at 7.02am.
Meriam said after desperate days of seeing empty toilet paper shelves at different supermarkets, she and her mother were first through the door at Chullora in southwest Sydney, but the shelves were empty.
"Everyone started running," she said.
"They brought out one pallet. I was grabbing and we put eight in the trolley.
Meriam said one lady tried to take a jumbo pack of Quinton from her and Woolies staff were telling her she was "selfish".
"They are screaming because we got there first. This lady starts screaming and swearing. We were trying to leave.
"She came up to the trolley and she grabbed one [packet of toilet rolls].
"She was holding it by the little band on the top.
"So I smashed on the toilet pack to rip that handle. The handle ripped ... I think I bent down, I get punched in my face, she grabbed my hair.
"Woolworths staff ganged up on us. Everyone was screaming at us.
"My hands just went flying. I don't know where I was hitting. I think I hit her across the face."
Sobbing as she described the fight to Bankstown Police, Meriam said she thought if she hit the woman, the woman would let go of her hair.
"She just wouldn't let go of my hair.
"I'm not a weak person ... I'm scared she might hurt my mum," she told police.
"She gets hurt ... a bigger deal, she's old."
Meriam said staff were making jokes about her and filmed the incident before the store manager then stepped in, saying: "This has got to stop, this is out of control."
She said: "Everyone was being so rude, so mean so we just left."
Asked by police about the blows traded between her and the other shopper, Meriam said alleged the woman "punched in my face close-fisted. It was hard, very aggressive."
She said she had retaliated but "my hands were open. I think I slapped her across the face."
In her police interview, Treiza Bebawy was asked by police, "do you agree there was a fight".
"Yes, yes," Treiza replied.
Asked if she had become involved in the fight, Treiza gave the same response.
But she told the police: "We come from a very good background. We are a good family."