Children's Court Magistrate's Sentencing Speech
20 October 2009
"You have pleaded guilty to attempting to steal some items from a car. You also pleaded guilty to damaging the car in that attempt."
Now as I understand, you did this because you actually wanted to be picked up by the police and sent to Rangeview. You had nowhere else to stay.
Detention of a young person in custody is always a last resort and is saved for the most serious criminal cases. In addition, a child has a qualified right to bail and the Court will look to set bail, with conditions if necessary, wherever appropriate.
You have spent one night in custody and normally that would be enough of a punishment for this type of offence. However, there are a number of matters that concern me about your case and this is not the first time you have been in this sort of trouble with the law.
So that I am better informed about your situation, I will ask for a report from the Department for Child Protection as well as Juvenile Justice because the aim of the Children’s Court is to promote your rehabilitation and if securing stable accommodation forms part of that rehabilitation, then we must ensure that you get that stable accommodation as well as any other supports you may need.
Now... I will set bail to Supervised Bail. That is a special programme that will look for a placement for you. They will contact any family that you may suggest or other responsible person to see if they are willing to have you at their home and whether they can provide a safe and supervised environment.
If that fails, then Supervised Bail will try and locate a bed in a crisis accommodation centre but you must agree to stick by the rules of Supervised Bail, which will mean staying at the place they arrange for you as well as a curfew and any other conditions that they may require.
Unfortunately even when bail has been set, more and more children are finding themselves in detention centres not because of the criminality of their offending as such but rather, because they have nowhere else to go.
In your case, it may mean a few days before Supervised Bail can actually find a safe place for you to stay and while they are arranging that, you will have to stay in custody at Rangeview. That is not the preferred option at all, given the lack of suitable accommodation for young people who are in crisis in this State. It is an unfortunate reality which needs to be urgently addressed.
You are next due to appear in Court in seven days and I should have all the information before me so that I can sentence you on this charge.