COMMUTERS on a rush-hour train ‘hid behind their newspapers’ as a drunken woman launched an eight-minute assault on a terrified 15-year-old girl.
May Rubery’s stepfather last night said he was disgusted that ‘adults just sat there and watched a young girl being attacked’.
The 17.52 Blackburn to Clitheroe train was packed full of people making their way home from work.
But not one person helped as Yvonne Maynard, 51, pulled the Sabden teenager’s hair, dragged her nails down her back and shouted abuse for eight minutes, a court heard.
The incident appears to have been sparked after Maynard, described in court as ‘extremely drunk’, saw May laughing with friends and mistakenly believed she was the victim of their humour.
May, a Ribblesdale High School pupil, said she was angry that no-one came to her aid.
She said: “I was on the train and my friend made me laugh. Next thing she was screaming ‘Are you laughing at me?’ “I didn’t know what she was going to do.
“I got really scared. She was shouting and saying very strange things then she started calling me names.
“She grabbed me by the arms.
“People were looking at her and at me at first and then some people started to hide behind their newspapers.
“She started pulling my hair and she was scraping her nails down my arms and legs.
"She had hold of me, shaking and scratching me for around eight minutes, shouting abuse.
"Then she pushed me back down into my seat and I got off at the next station.
“You wouldn’t think that could happen to you on a train, with people around.”
May’s stepfather Paul Barlow outlined his disgust.
“She was very upset about it and you wonder what things are coming to when adults can just sit there and watch a young girl being attacked.
“There are no Good Samaritans left. You would think people would stand up and say something to her, at least take her attention away from the child.”
At Blackburn Magistrates’ Court, Maynard, 51, of Belvedere Road, Salford, pleaded guilty to assault following the incident on September 1.
She was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months, made subject to community supervision for 12 months and ordered to pay May £100 compensation.
Peter Wilde, prosecuting, told the court the incident lasted about eight minutes and there was no sign of a guard during the journey.
He said the train, which started its journey in Manchester, was full of people making their way home from work.
Annette Shaw, defending, said Maynard had an alcohol problem and was quite often the subject of ridicule, abuse and violent behaviour by youths on public transport.
She said: “She perceived these young people were going to be cruel to her and she reacted aggressively.”