A woman who tried to rob and assault an elderly Catholic nun in broad daylight has been refused bail at Parramatta Bail Court.

Police say 49-year-old Christina Vachon-Coco stood closely behind the 77-year-old nun while she took cash from an ATM on the corner of Castlereagh and Liverpool Streets at 1pm on Friday.

The nun told police she noticed how close Ms Vachon-Coco was standing to her, so she put her money straight into her purse and held it tightly to her chest as she walked away.

But it is alleged the nun was followed for about 50 metres before her pursuer grabbed her around the waist and tried to wrangle the wallet from her grasp.

Refusing to budge, the pair struggled. The nun hit her head on a wall after falling, and her attacker then fell on top of her. The whole time the nun never let go of her purse.

A group of bystanders helped the nun, while Ms Vachon-Coco walked away empty handed. She was soon arrested by Australian Federal Police who happened to be in the area.

Ms Vachon-Coco will appear at Central Local Court on Monday.

The nun remains in St Vincent’s Hospital where she is being treated for a non-life threatening head injury.

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