'My mum lives in fear after bus stop attack'

HER attacker is now behind bars, but a woman who was punched in the face while waiting for a bus on Bell St remains fearful of going out in public.

Donna Payne was reading the paper on February 20 this year, as she waited for the same bus she'd been catching for 36 years.

All of a sudden, an enraged Candice Lee Harrison walked up to her, verbally abused her, and punched her in the chin.

The reason for the violence? Only Harrison really knows.

Ipswich Magistrates Court yesterday heard the assault on the defenceless 66-year-old was one of four similar unprovoked attacks that Harrison, 27, committed in the Ipswich area over two days.

Among the other victims were three men - two of whom did not know Harrison and to this day remain in the dark as to why she targeted them.

Harrison pleaded guilty to one count of serious assault of a person over 60, two counts of assault occasioning bodily harm, and one of common assault when her matter was heard before Magistrate Andy Cridland.

Prosecutor Sergeant Jo Colston said nothing short of a jail sentence was appropriate for Harrison, who was a "menace to the community".

"She has assaulted an elderly lady who was going about her business," Sgt Colston said.

"People have a right to feel safe in public."

Two of the remaining three assaults occurred on trains in Booval and Ebbw Vale - one on the same day as the assault on Mrs Payne, and the other on the following day.

Harrison also admitted to another assault and failing to leave a licensed premises.

The mother of three was on a suspended sentence for assault at the time that each of the offences was committed.

Defence lawyer Vince Knox said the fit of violent behaviour occurred as a result of Harrison's family problems, which had culminated in uncontrolled anger and drug abuse.

"Her mind was turned into a stew pot where she wasn't thinking clearly," Mr Knox said.

Victim's son Adam Payne talks to media outside Ipswich Courthouse on Monday afternoon. Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times
Victim's son Adam Payne talks to media outside Ipswich Courthouse on Monday afternoon. Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times Rob Williams

"The only thing in her favour is that she realises she has a problem."

Mr Cridland said Harrison's behaviour "could not be tolerated in any society".

"What you may have been affected by at the time is not clear," he said.

"You can't go around punching everyone you see."

For the assault charges, Harrison was sentenced to 12 months' jail, to be suspended for 18 months after she serves four months behind bars.

There was little comfort in the result for Mrs Payne's son Adam, who was in court yesterday.

Mr Payne said the assault had a lasting effect on his mother, aside from the physical injury, which included bruising on her face.

"She catches the same bus every Friday and has done for 36 years, except now she hides inside the pharmacy nearby until it arrives. She is scared," he said.

"This Harrison just came up to her and asked her why she was sitting the way she was sitting. Mum didn't take any notice of her and the next thing she noticed was a big whack.

"She hit her straight through the newspaper."

Harrison was also fined $500 for the charge of failing to leave a licensed premises, and ordered to pay $30 restitution.


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