This is when a woman is charged with Australia’s most spectacular panic attacks, recalling her alleged blue over toilet paper.
23-year-old Meriam Bebawy and her mother Treiza, 60, are accused of having committed a crime when they had a dramatic ‘altercation’ with another woman about Quilton, four layers in a Sydney Woolworths, in March this year.
In an interview with detectives, Bebawy claims that she and her mother were ‘packed’ together by ‘mean’ supermarket staff after they loaded eight packages into their trolley and tried to walk away with them.
The hospital worker, captured in an alleged fight with another woman in a viral video, collapses trying to describe the fight to police officers.
Meriam and Treiza Bebawy, above, claim they acted in self-defense that day trying to get toilet paper from Woolworths Chullora
Meriam Bebawy (left), 23, told police in an electronically recorded interview that in their situation they were not like an ‘average’ family. Treiza Bebawy, 60, is on the right
“(The act of the alleged victim) was very aggressive and I don’t know what would happen if I wanted to, my hand moved, or she grabbed my hair,” she explains.
“She put her hand in the elastic and turned it over,” she says, choking and accepting a tissue from detectives.
The court heard on Monday that the couple has pleaded not guilty to allegations, claiming they were acting in self-defense.
The wild incident allegedly happened when a crowd of as many as 40 people rushed into the store in a rush for toilet paper when the doors opened in the morning.
Bebawy’s interview first describes the version of the events of mother and daughter – which comes at the height of the pan-panic purchase.
But prosecutor Michael Cleaver told magistrate Peter Budgen that her version of the events did not match what was seen in camera footage.
In the clip, Meriam says that the family had been unsuccessfully looking for toilet paper for a week and jumped from grocery store to grocery store.
“We’re not your average family,” she explains to officers.
Meriam says she didn’t live at home and needed supplies to take back to Wollongong where she worked in the hospital.
Meanwhile ‘my mother has a daycare for the family, she uses a lot of toilet paper for the children’.
Her mother Treiza agreed, “I need it urgently … Every time I go (to the shops) … I can’t find anything.”
Toilet paper ‘urgently needed’: Mother and daughter Treiza (left) and Meriam (right) Bebawy are before a court fighting an ‘altercation’ charge in Woolworths Chullora
I only wanted one package
What the victim would have told the Bebawys
Meriam says they “looked around all week, everything is empty.”
Likewise, they stood out when looking for a delivery through the supermarket’s Click & Collect service.
Meriam said the supermarket staff had told them it would be best to arrive at a Woolworths store early in the morning to intercept the delivery of toilet roll pallets.
Meriam told the police they did exactly that and chose the Chullora supermarket because they thought it was less busy.
They were instructed to take only four packs per person, or eight in total.
That Saturday, Meriam recalls, “we were the first people there, we were waiting” when customers burst into the store.
“They finally opened the doors. Everyone started running. I started running – otherwise we wouldn’t have gotten anything, and the whole aisle was completely empty.
“And they literally bought out one pallet – one pallet worth the Quilton!
“I grabbed – we put eight in the trolley – everyone has four (packs).
“We put them in the trolley and they were ready so quickly.”
While they were trying to pull off their precious cargo, Meriam claims that everyone then “started yelling at us, no, you can’t bear that much.”
Bebawy’s relatives are said to have wrestled with the victim upstairs in a Woolworths supermarket after collecting a significant amount of toilet paper
Others were told, “You missed the first, served the first,” she claimed, as the ladies placed the toilet paper in the trolley and walked away.
Meriam then claimed the woman who was their alleged victim and the staff began to ‘unite’ against them.
“They kept us from moving, all the staff, they put this together. “You are this, you are that, you are selfish,” Meriam told the police.
She described the woman she was arguing with as “dark” skin and “screaming” as she tried to walk away with a pack of toilet paper.
“I was like, I’m sorry, put it back,” she recalls.
The court was shown a video of what happened next, with a scuffle in the aisle, recorded by a Woolworths employee.
The alleged victim is told in the video that she just wanted ‘one package’, and the older Bebawy said ‘no, not one package’.
Meriam Bebawy (left), 23, and her mother Treiza (right), 60, have been charged with grief over the Woolworths supermarket fight
Meriam told the police that she was trying to beat the pack of Quilton that the woman reportedly took from her hands.
“The handle tore … I felt a slap in the face … Then she grabbed my hair, so it started,” she recalled.
“My hands just flew. I don’t know what I did. I think I punched her in the face.
“I thought if I hurt her, she would let me go, she would let go of my hair.”
The family out of court today
“She just didn’t let go of my hair, she turned me around, it just went so fast.
“Then I saw that my mom got involved and grabbed her from the shirt, ripped her shirt off the top.”
Police officers who unfolded the case giggled Friday when slow-motion footage of the alleged battle was shown in court.
Meanwhile, the Bebawys were sitting still, an interpreter whispering a translated version of the events in Treiza, an Egyptian-Australian.
The load the couple has to face is one of grief.
The definition of that accusation is a crime in which a “person who uses or threatens violence against another” causes a “person present on the ground to fear of reasonable fortitude for his or her personal safety.”
Other prosecution witnesses who testify in court, including three Woolworths workers, and the court heard they were concerned by shouting in the store.
Defense attorney Matt Fordham said the Bebawys’ “evidence” could not mean that someone with reasonable determination was afraid of his own safety.
“We say it would be appropriate for the case to be dismissed at first sight,” said Mr Fordham.
But prosecutor Michael Cleaver claimed that Meriam Bebawy was the “aggressor.”
Cleaver told the court that “buying toilet paper from a store is a fairly universal act.
“The court must ask, someone who is going to do innocent groceries, if they are faced with such a situation, would they be afraid of their personal safety?
“We say yes.”
Magistrate Peter Bugden was stunned by the nature of the offense this morning and urged the parties to try to reach an agreement before bringing the matter up for discussion.
“This does not sound like a case that will reach the High Court or something,” he said, and the court has heard that the women are unlikely to receive a prison sentence.
The case has been adjourned with the magistrate expected to pass judgment on Monday.