‘Gutless”: Judge blasts youth gang violence
GUTLESS. This was the stinging rebuke given by a Children's Court judge, who went straight to the core of shameful teenage gang violence carried out in the safety of numbers.
Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren SC did not hold back in Ipswich Children's Court when sentencing a youth for his role in three episodes of disturbing public gang violence.
The crimes involved violence against two teenagers, who the gang followed onto a bridge across the Bremer River following incidents that the gang initiated at a nearby shopping centre.
The court heard there was also another incident on the Gold Coast, in which the owner of a Mercedes Benz confronted the Ipswich gang members late at night when he caught them breaking into his car.
He was then threatened with a knife.
The 17-year-old appeared in the dock after pleading guilty to a series of Crown prosecution charges that included offences such as unlawful break and enter to steal in the night; threaten violence, attempted robbery in company with violence; assault; robbery in company with violence; and stealing.
Crown prosecutor Victoria Adams said it was "violent offending in a pack mentality, that included a degree of planning and persistence".
As part of his reasoning behind his crimes, the youth blamed peer pressure from other teenagers, saying he got caught up "mixing with the wrong crowd".
There was also a level of violence accepted as being normal within his Pacific culture and family that he experienced growing up through his father, the boy stated.
Judge Horneman-Wren pointed out that when each of the co-offenders went before the court for sentence, they too blamed negative peer pressure for their actions, - and that the youth was included in that reference to peer pressure.
"The common feature of your crimes was that they were committed when part of a crowd, and gutless in nature," Judge Horneman-Wren said.
In a brief outline of facts put before the court the owner of a Mercedes bravely confronted the youths at midnight when he caught them breaking into the car at his home in Varsity Lakes.
They ran but the owner gave chase, demanding to know what they had stolen.
One youth pulled out a knife and threatened to kill him, causing the frightened man to put his hands in the air.
On February 16 this year the youth was with five mates at Brisbane Botanic Gardens when they ganged up on a 15-year old boy and tried to steal his money and mobile phone.
The boy struggled and the cowardly group bashed him, punching and kicking him on the ground.
His phone was taken, and his friend was also assaulted.
In the Ipswich incident at Riverlink Shopping Centre the youth had been with mates when they tried to start a fight with some boys in the food court.
The teen punched one boy in the chest and another offender tripped him over.
They then followed the boys onto the nearby bridge and attacked them.
The court was told the frightened boys lay in a foetal position to try and ward off the punches and kicks, including kicks to the head.
The youth before the court then stole sneakers from one of the victims.
The youth's defence barrister said he had a traumatic childhood where domestic violence was normalised and a "culturally acceptable practice".
Judge Horneman-Wren told the youth he would soon be 18 and if he continued to be violent he would go to jail.
The youth was sentenced to an 18-month probation order.