A man has been charged over the alleged assault of an elderly grandmother on the steps of a Melbourne church.

Penelope Katsavos, 78, was opening the St Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in South Yarra early on Saturday morning when she was allegedly punched in the face, pushed to the ground and kicked.

She was left alone on the ground on Barry Street for 30 minutes after the alleged incident before she was found by a worker cleaning the street.

Horrifying pictures of her sitting on the church steps with a bloodied and bruised face after the incident shocked parishioners and the wider Melbourne community.

Police allege a 36-year-old Box Hill man assaulted her before stealing her shopping trolley containing personal items about 6.15am.

Detectives swooped on the man on Thursday afternoon before he was charged with recklessly and intentionally causing serious injury, recklessly and intentionally causing injury, robbery and theft.

 

Penelope Katsavos after the incident.
Penelope Katsavos after the incident.

 

Ms Katsavos recovering in hospital.
Ms Katsavos recovering in hospital.

 

He remains in custody and is due to face Melbourne Magistrates' Court on Friday.

His arrest came after police released CCTV of a man they wished to speak to over the incident.

Ms Katsavos, of South Yarra, was taken to hospital with a broken wrist, a fractured hip, a severely bruised face and a bleed to the brain.

 

A man police wanted to speak to about the alleged attack about 6.15am on March 13. Picture: Supplied
A man police wanted to speak to about the alleged attack about 6.15am on March 13. Picture: Supplied

 

She was released from hospital on Thursday.

Senior Constable Peker alleged a man "viciously assaulted" Ms Katsavos and pushed her to the ground before stealing her shopping trolley containing personal items.

He said police found the trolley about 400m away from the church in Garden Street near the Jam Factory cinema, with her personal items, such as handbag, phone and cash, untouched.

 

Penelope Katsavos and her husband Thomas.
Penelope Katsavos and her husband Thomas.

 

"The victim has been punched to the right side of the face and she has also been pushed down a couple of steps," Senior Constable Peker alleged.

"It was a callous, violent and horrendous attack on an individual just going about her business."

Parishioners said Ms Katsavos had been opening the South Yarra church "every morning for the past 30 years" and it was the first time that something like this had every happened.

jack.paynter@news.com.au

Originally published as Man charged over alleged church bashing



DON'T MISS OUT: Activate your bonus for big rewards

DON'T MISS OUT: Activate your bonus for big rewards

Did you know you can get even more – for free?