The women accused of Australia’s most spectacular panic buying brawl have revealed why they needed a trolley load of toilet paper so ‘urgently’.
Health worker Meriam Bebawy, 23, and her family daycare operator mum Treiza Bebawy, 60, appeared at a south-west Sydney court on Friday.
They were there to fight charges laid over an alleged scuffle with a woman, 49, at Woolworths Chullora as they sought to secure packs of Quilton four ply about 7am on March 7.
The chaotic alleged brawl was seen around the nation after video went viral on social media – which today found its way in front of a New South Wales magistrate.
Detectives giggled as the magistrate was played slow-motion video of the shrieking alleged fracas, with the court hearing the mum and daughter’s explanations of what happened that chaotic day for the first time.
Mother and daughter Treiza (left) and Meriam (right) Bebawy are fighting charges over the country’s most famous alleged toilet paper brawl in court
Meriam Bebawy (left) told police in an electronically recoredd interview that they weren’t like an ‘average’ family in their situation – with her mother running a family day care centre and in desperate need for toilet paper
Meriam Bebawy told police in a recorded interview that the family had been searching for toilet paper for a week without success, jumping from supermarket to supermarket.
‘We’re not like an average family,’ Meriam told officers.
Meriam said she didn’t live at home and needed supplies to take back to Wollongong, where she worked at the hospital, while ‘my mum has a family day care, she uses toilet paper a lot, for the kids’.
Her mother Treiza agreed: ‘I need it urgently … Every time I got (to the shops) … I can’t find anything.’
The mother and daughter had been looking around for the ‘whole week … everything’s empty’, and likewise struck out with delivery service Click & Collect.
Supermarket staff told them their best bet would be to arrive at a Woolworths store early in the morning to intercept the delivery of pallets.
Meriam told police they did just that, and were aware they could only take home four packs per person, or eight altogether.
‘We were the first people there, we were waiting,’ she explained.
‘They finally opened the doors. everyone started running. I started running – or we wouldn’t have got anything, and the whole aisle was completely empty.
‘And they literally bought out one pallet – one pallet’s worth of the Quilton!
‘I was grabbing, we put eight in the trolley, everyone’s grabbing four.
‘We put them in the trolley and they finished so quickly.’
Meriam then claimed everyone ‘started screaming at us, no you can’t take that much.’
The Bebawy family members allegedly scuffled with the victim, above, at a Woolworths supermarket after collecting a sizeable amount of toilet paper
The family told them ‘you’ve missed out, first thing, first served’, she claimed, with the ladies placing the toilet paper in the trolley and starting to move away.
She then claimed the woman who is their alleged victim and staff began to ‘gang up’ on them, despite them having four packs for each person.
‘They’ve stopped us from moving, all the staff, they’ve ganged up on this. “You’re this, you’re that, you’re selfish”,’ Meriam told police.
She described the woman the court accepted she had an altercation as ‘dark’ and as ‘screaming’ as she tried to walk away with a pack of toilet paper.
‘I was like, excuse me, put it back’.
The court was shown video of what happened next, with a scuffle breaking out in the aisle, recorded by a Woolworths employee.
Meriam Bebawy (left), 23, and her mother Treiza (right), 60, were charged with affray over the Woolworths supermarket brawl
The alleged victim can be heard in the video saying she just wanted ‘one pack’, and the older Mrs Bebawy saying ‘no, not one pack’.
Both women were charged with the offence of affray. The charges means a ‘person who uses or threatens violence towards another’ which would cause ‘a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his or her personal safety’.
Prosecutor Michael Cleaver told the court it is accepted by the parties that an ‘altercation’ occurred between the Bebawys and a member of the public.
The magistrate on Friday was dumbfounded by the nature of the offending this morning, urging the parties to come to an agreement, which they could not.
‘This doesn’t sound like a matter that’s going to reach the High Court or anything,’ he said, and the court has heard the women are unlikely to face a jail sentence.
The case continues on Friday afternoon.