3 July 2023

15-year-old accused of breaking younger boy's jaw in Canberra Centre

| Albert McKnight
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Law Court

A teenager’s jaw was broken in the Canberra Centre on Friday; the accused has appeared in court. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

A 15-year-old boy has been refused bail after it was alleged he broke the jaw of another child by punching him in the face twice while they were at the Canberra Centre.

The ACT Children’s Court heard the complainant, aged 14, will need to have a titanium plate installed to address the injury he allegedly received in the incident on Friday (30 June).

The girlfriend of the older boy tried to shake the complainant’s hand in the centre that afternoon, but he turned her away, it is alleged in court documents.

It is alleged the 15-year-old then walked towards the younger boy, yelled at him, shoved him against the wall and punched him twice in the face.

The complainant said he felt shocked and could not feel his mouth afterwards. He was taken to the Canberra Hospital where doctors said he had a broken and dislocated jaw and a broken cheekbone.

Later that same day, it is alleged the 15-year-old messaged the complainant over the social media application Snapchat and made comments like, “You’re lucky I didn’t break your nose. That was a warning”.

Police spoke to the 15-year-old on Sunday (3 July). He told them the complainant had allegedly pushed his girlfriend a few weeks earlier and he became very angry with the younger boy, wanting to hurt and teach him a lesson.

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He was in the Children’s Court on Monday (3 July) and applied for bail after being charged with recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Prosecutor Mark Wadsworth alleged it had been a seriously violent assault. He claimed the assault had occurred in public and the presence of others had not deterred the 15-year-old.

He said it was rare for the prosecution to oppose a young person’s bail when they had no criminal history, which the 15-year-old had.

But he alleged it appeared there was an ongoing dispute which didn’t seem likely to resolve and argued it was difficult to see what bail conditions could be imposed that would address the prosecution’s concerns.

Duty lawyer Ewan Small said the 15-year-old, who is legally unable to be identified, was supported by family members in court and argued it was appropriate to grant bail.

He said there was nothing to suggest his client wouldn’t comply with bail conditions and he could stay away from the complainant’s school and the Canberra Centre.

He said the boy, who had never spent time in custody before, had spent the last 24 hours in police custody.

Special Magistrate Rebecca Christensen said there didn’t appear to be any level of provocation in the alleged circumstances of the case.

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She also said it appeared the 15-year-old had made full admissions to the assault, which was captured on closed-circuit television footage.

She said a difficulty was that the proposed bail conditions were not onerous by any means, while a particularly concerning aspect of the allegations were the apparent threats the boy had made after the alleged assault.

She said these alleged threats had serious and concerning aspects to them, even if the court took into account how young people might exaggerate their intentions on social media.

The special magistrate said these alleged threats demonstrated a concerning attitude by the 15-year-old which she was not satisfied the current bail conditions could address.

In the absence of further supports, she said she would refuse bail and remand the boy in custody.

The 15-year-old then told the court he wanted to say something before being encouraged to remain silent.

The matter was adjourned to later in July.

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