An octogenarian punched in the face three times and robbed while behind the wheel of her car at night faced her attackers in court and questioned what right they had to treat her that way.
The 82-year-old was followed by Shalia Leaf and Megan Clarke from a restaurant at the Town Basin in Whangārei to the entrance to a retirement village on the evening of May 13, assaulted, and robbed of her handbag.
Leaf, 20, and Clarke, 27, earlier pleaded guilty to one charge of aggravated robbery and were on Monday sentenced in the Whangārei District Court to home detention and community work, and the latter also ordered to pay emotional harm reparation.
Judge Duncan Harvey decided against sending the duo to jail, saying he was worried they were going to come out even worse than when they went inside.
He described the 82-year-old as "feisty" for coming to court and telling the two women in dock how she felt about her ordeal.
She was followed by Leaf and Clarke when she returned to the retirement village after a meal with friends at the Town Basin and attacked as she wound down her window to enquire what both wanted.
The women had planned to steal her car and sell it to buy cannabis but failed as the vehicle keys were in her pocket at the time of the aggravated robbery.
A vehicle leaving the area disrupted the attack but the two managed to take her handbag which contained $70 cash, a cellphone, driver's licence, and bank cards.
She suffered a cracked, swollen, and cruised nose, and a split lip.
"I have never had anything given to me on a silver platter. I worked hard all my working life to have the few privileges that I do have, like a new car in my latter years," she said while facing both women in the dock.
"What gives you girls the right to beat me up, to try and intimidate me, to take my belongings off me? You called me a ****en bitch which was the biggest insult I have ever had in my life.
"What gives you the right to speak to me in such insulting and degrading manner? Never before have I been spoken to in such disgusting language."
She was able to drive during the day but no longer at night.
"I see lights coming behind me, I get the feeling someone is following me. I get nervous, concerned, and watchful especially as the car behind me also turns into my street," she said.
Judge Harvey said he hoped Leaf and Clarke realised just how close they came to going to jail.
"This was a very, very nasty attack. It is bad enough for anyone to be attacked in this way but to attack a lady in her 80s for no reason at all, is simply appalling."
Given the nature of their offending, the judge said the community would expect him to send them to prison but there was a problem with that approach.
"If I send you to prison, it can only be for a finite term. You'll go to prison, you'll sit in a cell, and you won't actually do anything other than mix with other people, possibly like-minded, and I am worried that you are going to come out even worse than when you went in."
Judge Harvey said for a long time, there has been extreme criticism of the courts for imposing a sentence of home detention where people thought offenders would go home, stay there, and did not do much.
"Interestingly enough, the Covid pandemic has changed that attitude a little because now everybody in this country knows what it's like to be sent home, and told to stay there."
Leaf and Clarke were both sentenced to 12 months home detention and ordered to perform 250 hours of community work.
In addition, Clarke was ordered to pay $1000 in emotional harm reparation.