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Queensland boy held in solitary confinement in breach of youth justice laws, court hears

ABC News, By Talissa Siganto

Posted updated 


The solitary confinement of a 13-year-old Queensland boy with a disability was “cruel”, had “no rehabilitative effect” and was a “direct breach” of the state’s youth justice laws, a judge has ruled.

The teen, who cannot be identified, pleaded guilty last week to robbery in company after admitting to being part of a group attack on a trolley attendant at a shopping centre last year.

A published decision from his sentencing hearing in the Queensland Children’s Court said two people in the group hit the man in the back with sticks, pulled him to the ground, stole his mobile phone and then demanded he give them money and buy them cigarettes.

The decision said it was not clear if the boy was personally involved in the physical attack, but he was legally responsible as he “did not walk away from it”.

Judge Tracy Fantin said the offending was “disgraceful” and a “terrible thing to do” and it was lucky the man was not seriously injured.

“He was just trying to do his job to earn money, probably for his family, and it would have been frightening for him to have that happen to him,” she said.

‘Let down by the state’

The decision said the boy, who had been diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, had a “very difficult childhood” and “suffered the consequences” of his parents being drug users and abusive.

“None of that is any of your fault,” she said.

“Those adults have let you down and, in some ways, the state, which was meant to be caring for you in New South Wales and Queensland, has also let you down.”

Judge Fantin said the boy had also taken drugs from age 10, and this combined with his medical conditions and family background, stopped him from being able to “make good decisions” and control his “thinking and impulses”.

“You have some understanding that what you did was wrong, but because of the things which have happened to you, you find it hard to understand how another person might have felt,” she said.

The decision said the teen had a “very limited criminal history”, which included assault and car theft offences, but he had never been ordered to serve any time in detention for these.


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