Woman’s hair ripped from scalp in random Dunedin attack

A Dunedin teen who ripped chunks of hair from another woman’s scalp during a random street attack will spend three months on a curfew.

Nikkita Harmani Solheim (19) appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday after admitting counts of assault and injuring with intent to injure.

She was in a packed Dunedin CBD on a Saturday night in July when she unleashed a torrent of violence against two unsuspecting women who were out socialising.

Solheim was walking down George St with two associates and the trio were described as “loud, aggressive and bumping into people”.

The defendant, witnesses said, appeared to be especially hostile.

Without warning, Solheim began punching her first victim — a female university student — in the head and body.

The pair fell to the ground but it did not deter the defendant from landing further blows and ripping out the woman’s hair.

Solheim was the quicker to regain her feet and after aiming several kicks to the victim’s head and body, she dragged her across the footpath by the hair.

“Numerous members of the public tried to pull the defendant away but she was uncontrollable,” court documents said.

Eventually, a crowd of people waded in to shield the victim from further punishment but Solheim remained belligerent, challenging anyone to fight her.

Again, she lashed out, punching another woman in the face who had stepped in to assist.

The court heard of the significant impact the violence had on the first victim.

Solheim’s first victim had been left covered in bruises and abrasions and she had lost “large chunks of hair”, the court heard.

She had ongoing issues with sleep and speech.

In a statement, she said she was “scared” while being beaten but grateful strangers stepped in to protect her.

Defence counsel Anne Stevens QC said the bulk of her client’s issues came against the background of a childhood that was neither safe nor loving.

“In effect she’s been abandoned by the people who created her and been left with that deep wound,” she said.

“[The offending] is a terrible form of acting out that she’s ashamed of.”

Solheim, Stevens said, was willing to apologise in person to the victims but her health and instability of her living arrangements thwarted that.

Judge Kevin Glubb noted the defendant had been bounced between addresses throughout her teens and had a dysfunctional upbringing.

However, she was now pursuing her interests in photography and nursing.

Solheim was sentenced to three months’ community detention (a 7pm-7am curfew) and 14 months’ intensive supervision.


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