GRAPHIC CONTENT: Some readers may find this court report highly disturbing.
For years, a female staff member had tried to support one of the boys who would be sentenced over the violent 2019 riot at Canberra’s Bimberi Youth Justice Centre.
She helped the boy – given the acronym ‘QH’ – with education and personal development because she believed he was capable of achievement.
But during the events of 26 August, 2019, the 17-year-old grabbed the woman by the hair, pulled her head back and held a screw to her throat.
“Let us out the front door or I’m going to kill her in three,” he said.
As a youth worker approached them, he yelled, “I’m going to f–king kill her, I’ll f–king kill her.”
Three boys were sentenced in February over the rampage, which included a youth worker being stabbed in the face with a pen.
Two others, QH and 16-year-old ‘CR’, were actually sentenced in 2020, but the ACT Supreme Court judgement for their cases has only recently been released.
The judgement shows the detainees had planned to ‘rush’ a staff-only area and steal keys at about 6:30 pm on the night. Several staff members were assaulted in the violence that followed.
When a youth worker grabbed QH and pushed him onto a desk to try to restrain him, QH punched him twice in the side of the head with a small sharp screw pointing out of his fist. Later, he stabbed the youth worker in the backside with a screw.
One of the other boys threw CR keys they had taken from the youth worker and he left the room, followed by QH, after which the latter threatened to kill the female staff member.
As three staff members then tried to restrain QH, the youth worker asked the boy if he was OK.
“F–k you, c–t, I should have been stabbing you in the throat,” the boy replied.
CR kicked the youth worker twice in the head and twice in the body while yelling “get off him, you dogs” to staff.
He also kicked two other staff members before running to another building and using the keys to release another detainee from their cell.
CR and this boy climbed onto the roof of a demountable building, then he wrote his name in ink on the roof and sprayed a fire extinguisher into the air.
The two boys climbed down from the roof, found a motorised maintenance vehicle and drove laps around an enclosed yard.
When staff chased them, they climbed back onto the demountable building and didn’t come down until after 7:00 pm when police arrived and negotiated with them to come down.
Later in August 2019, the instigator of the riot said their aim was “to try and get out”, and the group was “trying to get the keys”.
The woman QH assaulted said she felt betrayed over the attack due to the investment she had made in him.
She said she felt unable to return to work at Bimberi, which meant her passion for supporting vulnerable young people had been shattered.
Chief Justice Helen Murrell said the boys’ actions were consistent with their immaturity.
“[It] was largely unplanned, impulsive, risk-taking behaviour that was never likely to yield a substantial benefit to the participants,” she said.
Both boys pleaded guilty to a combined total of 15 charges, including aggravated robbery and assault.
Justice Murrell sentenced QH to two years and eight months’ jail, suspended after eight months for good behaviour orders (GBOs) and fined him $500.
She sentenced CR to 18 months’ jail, suspended after four months and two weeks for GBOs, and fined him $700.