'Act of desperation': Troubled teen tries to flee Gladstone

A TEENAGER who "just wanted to get out of Gladstone" has learned what it means to be an adult under the eyes of the law.

The 17-year-old boy, who can't be named for legal reasons, spent five days in police custody before pleading guilty to unlawful use of a motor vehicle and driving without a licence, after he stole a car belonging to his carer.

Gladstone Magistrates Court heard the teenager took the car owned by Life Without Barriers, whose residential care he was in.

Police prosecutor Gavin Reece told the court the boy took the keys from the house between midnight and 1.15am on Friday, before driving to Bundaberg and then to Boyne Island.

Mr Reece said police found the car at Boyne Island, and then the boy walking towards it with the keys in his hand.

On Monday his lawyer Axel Beard told the court he "just wanted to get out of Gladstone".

Mr Beard said the teen wanted to escape an old friendship group, who had been a bad influence on his behaviour.

"They were harassing him to rejoin them," Mr Beard said.

"It was an act of desperation.

"He wanted to avoid the temptation of committing further crimes."

Magistrate Melanie Ho said it was the teenager's first time before the adult court.

Ms Ho said she didn't want to send him to an adult prison, but was concious of the likelihood he would re-offend if released.

"I am not convinced if he stays here (in Gladstone) he won't make the same stupid mistake again," Ms Ho said.

The teenager was held in the police watch house for another night while his carers and the court considered bail options.

He was back in court on Tuesday, where his guilty plea cancelled the need for bail.

His lawyer on this occasion, Matt Heelan, said his client acted "out of anger" and was sorry for his actions.

"Underneath the anger there's a good man who wants to learn," Mr Heelan said.

Ms Ho gave the teenager a frank warning about the difference between juvenile detention and adult prison.

She urged him to straighten out his behaviour before he wound up in jail.

The boy was sentenced to 60 hours community service and his licence was disqualified for two years.


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