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Woman screams as attacker sentenced

A woman who was doused in petrol and set alight has fled from a Sydney court after her attacker was sentenced to a minimum of three years in gaol.

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A woman has stormed, wailing, from a Sydney court after a youth who doused her with petrol and set her alight in an inner-city alley was sentenced to a minimum of three years' jail.

The woman, a Korean national known as "Miss K", suffered burns to 45 per cent of her body on March 22, 2012, when the youth forced her to the ground, doused her with a milk carton full of petrol, and then set her alight as she tried to flee.

Miss K, a student in her 30s, has had five operations, including one to remove her upper lip, which was undertaken in a bid to treat the severe burns to her face.

The youth cannot be named because he was 17 at the time of the attack, but is referred to as "MF".

Judge Andrew Hasler told the Downing Centre District Court on Monday that the youth would have received a maximum 11-year jail sentence were it not for the special circumstances surrounding the crime and his actions afterwards.

Instead, MF was sentenced to a maximum term of six years in jail with a minimum of three.

Miss K cried out in anguish as the sentence was handed down, before storming from the court, wailing.

The special circumstances centre on the fact that the youth was under severe duress from a much older cousin who, the judge said, threatened to harm him and his family if he did not set the woman on fire.

The court heard that the youth's cousin, referred to as "M", had become infatuated with Miss K while she was supporting her family by working part time as a prostitute.

It is alleged that, when Miss K rejected M's attempts to take the relationship from the professional to the personal, he began planning the attack.

Judge Hasler said that, over the ensuing months, M attempted to convince and then coerce MF into hurting Miss K on his behalf during numerous visits to his home.

"He physically intimidated MF ... threatening to harm his mother and sister," Judge Hasler said.

The judge said that what happened to Miss K was a tragedy.

"She will continue to suffer physically and and mentally for the rest of her life," he said.

The court heard that, on the night of the attack, M told his cousin "come with me ... if you don't come, I've got a gun".

After locating Miss K in the alley in Chippendale where she was walking to work, M allegedly ordered the youth at gun point to "scare" Miss K by setting her legs alight.

The judge accepted that this amounted to "severe duress", warranting a reduction in MF's sentence. 

The youth's sentence was also reduced because he had pleaded guilty to assault occasioning grievous bodily harm with intent, and because he had agreed to help police prosecute his cousin.

His youth and remorse were also taken into account.

"If [the burning of Miss K] were all we knew, anyone on the community would expect the offender to receive a very severe sentence," Judge Hasler said.

"But we do know more. We know the full circumstances surrounding the offence, and we know what MF has done to bring the perpetrator of the crime to justice."