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- Unreported Judgment
CHILDREN'S COURT OF QUEENSLAND
SRT v Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions  QChC 24
OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS
Cairns Children's Court
27 August 2020
31 July 2020
CRIMINAL LAW – APPEAL AGAINST SENTENCE – SENTENCING JUVENILES – where the child was sentenced to multiple offences – where the child was 12 years old at the time of committing the offences – where the learned Magistrate sentenced the child to a period of probation for 12 months – where the child spent 18 days in custody as he was not willing to comply with a conditional bail program – where 12 months is the maximum amount of probation that can be imposed – whether the learned Magistrate adequately took into account the time spent in custody – where the offending took place over a short period of time – where the child was co-operative with the police and the courts
Ms C Anderson-James, Legal Aid Queensland for the applicant
Mr S Sherrie for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Queensland
- The applicant was dealt with in the Cairns Childrens Court on 24 March 2020 in relation to 24 separate charges. He was sentenced to 12 months’ probation. No conviction was recorded. It is against this sentence that he seeks a review.
- The offences occurred over a one month period between 1 February and 3 March 2020. On 1 February 2020 the child went into a unit in an apartment block in Jensen Street, took a set of car keys and searched the glovebox of a vehicle outside the unit where he located and took two $50 notes. He then left with co-offenders and threw the car keys away (enter premises and commit indictable offence).
- On 11 February 2020 he approached a 12 year old boy and demanded his bicycle. The child refused and he punched the victim in the face and then struck him two times in the head. He looked through the victim’s backpack and threw his lunchbox into a creek. He then took his bicycle and rode away. He discarded the bicycle in a nearby street (assault with intent to steal and stealing).
- On 16 February 2020 he and co-offenders were disturbed searching through a vehicle. The co-offenders ran away. He yelled obscenities at the victim. He picked up rocks and sticks and threw them towards the victim before running away (enter premises with intent to commit an indictable offence).
- On 19 February 2020 the householder was disturbed at 1.25 am by people in her house. Offenders had stolen car keys to a Hyundai Sedan parked at the address and house keys. At about 3.00 am they returned to the dwelling and tried to get in using the remote control to open the garage door. The child’s finger print was located on a jar containing lollies inside the dwelling (enter dwelling and commit indictable offence).
- On 21 February 2020 the child and others gained entry to the victim’s share house through a communal entry door left unlocked by another. They stole car keys and used them to drive the vehicle (enter dwelling and commit indictable offence and unlawful use of a motor vehicle).
- On 22 February 2020 a white Honda HR-V SUV was stolen. It was located the next day abandoned in Mt Sheridan. The child made admissions stating he’d been given the keys at 4.00 am and drove the car around until it became daylight (unlawful use of a motor vehicle). He and others also gained entry to a dwelling and stole keys to a red Jeep and a grey Honda. The child made admissions stating he’d been picked up in the red Jeep Cherokee before being driven back to the victim’s address and being given the key to the grey Honda he searched the dwelling while the occupants were asleep in bed but didn’t locate anything of interest. He went to the garage and used the key to drive the car away (enter dwelling with intent by break, unlawful use of a motor vehicle).
- On 23 February the child was arrested and he told police that he’d been picked up by an associate in a Mitsubishi ASX and then started driving and then dumped it in the street before driving away in the stolen Land Cruiser (unlawful use of a motor vehicle x 2).
- On 1 March 2020 at about 4.00 am the child and others entered a dwelling by damaging the rear security door and stole two sets of car keys, cash, a wallet and a fuel card. He was located two days later with two sets of keys belonging to a Volvo Sedan in his pants pocket. He also had two different sets of house keys and the garage door remote (enter dwelling and commit indictable offence, receiving tainted property, unlawful possession of suspected stolen property).
- On 3 March 2020 an orange Holden Commodore and a White Ford Falcon were taken from a residence. Keys to the vehicles were also taken, and the leather wallet and a purse. The victims were asleep at the time. A photograph was uploaded to Facebook which showed the Commodore with eight children gathered around the vehicle. This child was identified by his grandmother to be on the centre of the vehicle’s roof (enter dwelling and commit indictable offence, two unlawful use of motor vehicles). The police dog squad was sent in to locate the children. Five children including this child were found hiding in the garden on the southern side of a unit complex. The front entry window louvres of a neighbouring property had been removed and were lying in the garden. The children had entered the holiday accommodation and squirted sauce over everything in two of the bedrooms and bathroom, broken a lamp in the bathroom and written Rayma in Vegemite on a wall (enter premises and commit indictable offence by a break). The child and others then entered another dwelling. Tomato sauce was sprayed within one of the bathrooms, $1500 cash and an Apple iPhone were taken (enter dwelling and commit an indictable offence x 2). The child and others also went into another property on the same day, draws and cupboards were searched and alcohol was taken (enter premises and commit indictable offence by break). A further house was entered by popping louvres from the front window of the dwelling. The dwelling was searched, emptying draws and benches (enter premises with intent to commit an indictable offence).
- On 7 March 2020 the child and co-offender were trying to break into a house with unknown implements. They ran away.
- The child was 12 years of age at the time of the offences and 12 years and 5 months at the time of the sentence. He had a limited criminal history having been reprimanded on 16 January with respect to five charges of wilful damage and six charges of stealing. He had spent 18 days remanded in custody in the relation to these offences because he indicated he wouldn’t comply with the conditional bail program. He then changed his mind about the conditional bail program but committed further offences, the last of the offences whilst on that program.
- The submissions made on his behalf were that the child had 25 per cent attendance at school in 2020. The previous years his attendance had been over 80 per cent. He was sent down to Woorabinda to reside with his mother’s family. He did not offend while he was in Woorabinda but when he came back from Woorabinda his grandmother noted he was very different and he took up with a group of young people in Cairns who had substance abuse and offending problems. It was submitted on his behalf: “He exhibits a lot of bravado and unfortunately at this stage a lot of immaturity. I’m with my friend certainly with her submission as to a period of probation. SRT definitely does need some guidance. He also needs some stability in his life.”
- The submission on behalf of the child is that the period of 12 months’ probation is too long as it is the maximum amount of probation that could have been imposed. It is submitted that no allowance was given for the time spent in custody and that a shorter period of probation should have been imposed given that he had spent a significant period of time in custody for a 12 year old. The crown submit that the child is in need of supervision and that that was the appropriate order. There was an allowance made for the plea of guilty and that the order should not be disturbed. The crown submits that the fact that the child was not given a sentence of detention shows the allowance for the cooperation with the administration of justice.
- The offending is serious and it is persistent over a short period of time. The child exhibited his immaturity by his attitude to being remanded in custody. He originally indicated that he wanted to be remanded into the Cleveland Detention Centre and was defiant in his attitude. His representative indicated he had embraced his group of friends and they were children who were well known to the Youth Justice system. His mother indicated that the family was having trouble keeping him under control as she was in a shelter and he was not allowed to stay with her at the shelter. His grandmother could not keep him at home.
- These were all problems that did need supervision and monitoring, however, this child was very young and had been spent time in detention for the first time. His offending was concerning but also took place over a relatively short period of time and he was cooperative with the police and the courts. In all the circumstances a shorter period of probation was appropriate. I agree with the submission that a period of no more than eight months’ probation was appropriate in this case.
- The application is granted. The sentence is set aside to the extent that the period of probation is reduced to eight months. The sentence is otherwise to remain.
- Published Case Name:
SRT v Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions
- Shortened Case Name:
SRT v Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions
 QCHC 24
27 Aug 2020