A 7-Eleven customer who died six days after a Jewish woman poured hot coffee on her and held her in the gas station was attacked after being racially abused.
On Tuesday, Sarah Franklin, now 53, pleaded guilty to a charge of assaulting Sarah Murphy after accepting a plea deal from the Victorian Crown Prosecution Service.
Charges against co-defendant Andrea Madigan, also 53, were dismissed after she appeared in court Tuesday agreeing to contest the charge.
Andrea Madigan planned to contest the assault charge. She was seen on video surveillance cameras appearing to break up the riot and then allegedly helping to pin down Franklin’s victim.
The 7-Eleven petrol station in Caulfield (pictured) where the tragic incident occurred
Franklin also appeared at Moorabbin Magistrates’ Court to defend himself against the charges, but accepted a last-minute plea deal with law enforcement.
The court heard prosecutors made the agreement on the condition that she accepted the last two minutes of her attack on Ms Murphy was not self-defense.
The attack occurred on February 8 last year at a 7-Eleven gas station in Caulfield, in Melbournelies southeast.
Madigan and Franklin had just gone into the store to get coffee when Ms. Murphy appeared to object to a man cutting in front of her.
An argument ensued before Franklin was seen throwing a cup of coffee over her victim.
Video taken by a witness showed Ms. Murphy repeatedly screaming for help while Franklin knelt on her back.
“I can’t breathe,” she screamed, “Help, help me.”
The court heard that Franklin took offense at Ms Murphy’s racist comment just moments earlier, in which she remarked “Die Jews”.
In harrowing scenes, Ms Murphy was seen running down an aisle from Franklin before being attacked.
The court heard how Ms Murphy bit Franklin as they fell to the ground while wrestling.
Only then did prosecutors agree that Franklin should have withdrawn from the riot.
“Are you calm now?” Franklin asked as she continued to hold Ms. Murphy for two minutes.
Sarah Franklin poured hot coffee on her victim before holding her down. She tried to conceal her identity in Moorabbin Magistrates Court on Tuesday
Andrea Madigan leaves court Tuesday after her charges were dismissed
Forensic officers are seen at the petrol station after Ms Murphy was attacked
Despite Ms Murphy’s death, the court concluded that forensic experts were unable to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that she died as a result of the incident.
CCTV footage appeared to show Ms Murphy was unconscious as the two women grabbed their possessions and left the petrol station.
Madigan was charged after she allegedly held Ms Murphy’s arm as her 20-year-old friend pinned her victim with one knee.
Her hearing was adjourned so Judge Stephen Lee could sentence Franklin.
Mr Lee said he needed a psychological report on Franklin before deciding on her sentence.
The veteran judge appeared shocked to learn Ms Murphy had died.
He also expressed concern about the agreement with prosecutors since it was Franklin who instigated the violence when she spilled the hot coffee on her victim.
“To me it looked like a classic two-on-one,” Mr Lee said
Sarah Franklin (left) leaves court with her sister. She refused to answer questions
Coffee was allegedly poured on a woman who later died in hospital (archive image)
Two women have now been charged over the alleged attack (pictured: police on site)
However, prosecutors acknowledged that Franklin was provoked into the attack by the anti-Semitic insults directed at her.
Franklin’s lawyer, Greer Boe, said the judge should not take Ms. Murphy’s death into account when sentencing her client.
“There is no evidence that she caused the victim’s death,” she said.
Ms. Greer called for Franklin to be released on the basis of good behavior without conviction, saying the attack was a “temporary misstep” – a claim Mr. Lee found strange.
“I’m surprised you made this request,” he said.
“It was a prolonged use of force to completely subdue a helpless victim… it looked to me like significant violence, far from a momentary lapse.”
The two defendants were initially charged with manslaughter due to negligent grievous bodily harm.
Those charges were dropped while forensic doctors worked to determine exactly how Ms. Murphy died.
When the charge was brought back in court, it was reduced to common law assault – a charge that carries a maximum sentence of just five years behind bars.
Mr. Lee will sentence Franklin in December.
Outside court, Franklin refused to comment to Daily Mail Australia as she returned to her car.