3 January 2023

Boys refused bail over two Gungahlin burglaries, police investigate 17 more in same area

| Albert McKnight
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ACT Law Courts Photo: Michelle Kroll Region Media

Two boys, aged 15 and 16, have been refused bail after being accused of being involved in two burglaries. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Two boys are in custody after being accused of committing two burglaries in Gungahlin, although police are also investigating 17 more in the north Canberra region.

The pair, aged 15 and 16, are accused of burglarising two businesses on 2 January 2023.

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage had captured two burglars using a sledgehammer to smash a window at Hair Journey in Palmerston at around 2:40 am before they stole items, court documents say.

Later that morning, CCTV again captured a pair stealing bottles of opened alcohol from the Indian restaurant Spice Affair in Casey.

Police tried to stop two stolen cars they suspected had been used in the burglaries when they were spotted at around 5:20 am in Lyneham, but the drivers did not stop and officers lost sight of them.

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The documents say police received reports of 17 burglaries in the Gungahlin area during the same morning and suspect the same people may have committed them.

The boys were arrested at about 6 am while walking together through Giralang. As officers approached them, it’s alleged the 15-year-old was seen to throw a sledgehammer onto the grass.

The 16-year-old was interviewed by police in the company of his mother, telling them he’d left home on 1 January and wouldn’t say where he’d been since then.

He was shown CCTV stills of the burglary but said he didn’t recognise the locations, although he described the burglars in them as looking like they were “eshay”.

They were both charged with two counts of aggravated burglary and one count of theft and applied for bail in the ACT Children’s Court on Tuesday (3 December), which was opposed by prosecutor Hannah Mitchell based on the likelihood of reoffending.

The 15-year-old’s lawyer, Crystal Holt of Legal Aid, said he had been at a drug and alcohol residential rehabilitation program but had been discharged along with seven others before Christmas over alleged ‘chroming’ (inhaling solvents).

She said he was now welcome back into the program where he had reportedly been “making strides”.

But Ms Mitchell said the new charges the boy had just been handed were now his seventh set of alleged offences, while he had also committed five breaches of bail in the last year.

Kat Duffy from Andrew Byrnes Law Group, appearing for the 16-year-old, argued it was “by no means an infallible prosecution case”.

She said it appeared police wanted to rely on CCTV for the case but argued it was unclear if the co-defendants were clearly identified, particularly her client.

Instead, she said there was a lot of reliance on “coincidence evidence” to allege her client was involved in the burglaries.

Ms Duffy also said the boy had previously been handed two charges that resulted in full-time custody, but he said “he really has learnt his lesson” from his time behind bars.

She said at the time of the previous offending he had problems with the drug ‘crack’, but he was now sober.

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Ms Mitchell argued his alleged involvement in the burglaries was not “a spur of the moment mistake” but premeditated, and while his criminal history was limited, it did mean he was aware of the consequences of criminal behaviour.

Magistrate James Lawton said due to the risk of committing other offences as well as the need to protect the community, bail would be refused for both boys.

He also said police were investigating two more suspects.

The 16-year-old became agitated when told he would stay behind bars, making comments like, “Can I say something?”

The pair were remanded in custody and their matters were adjourned to later in January. No pleas were entered.

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There is one thing that will absolutely scare them into submission and most offenders really… hard labour!

Matt Donnelly1:09 pm 06 Jan 23

What methods would be employed to make them perform hard labour? Whips? Cattle prods? Threats of torture and starvation? No Xbox for a week? What?

Good call Matt.
No mobile phone
For 5 minutes.

Maybe Mr Barr or Mr Rattenbury and the other bleeding hearts could offer their homes for fostering these poor misguided and misunderstood youths instead of incarcerating them. The Local Council is very quick to shovel these types of problems onto the community and then seem astounded when the community reacts negatively.

This is outrageous and patently unfair.

Surely these boys are deserving of another 15 chances before incarceration is even considered.

They are clearly hard done by and open to changing their ways as shown by their recent history.

It’s outrageous that they have to wait until they are old enough to seek preselection for ALP/Greens on a ticket of bail reform

Agree the parents need to be there and take responsibility. Youth crime seems to be increasing in frequency and violence with regional offenders posting on TikTok – locking them up doesn’t seem to be working so more creative intervention is required.

Really these 2 are just starting out to be career criminals,the way the law is it gives them and other kids under 18 free rain to do what they want.The parents hands are tied they cant smack them,or they will be done for assault on their child,then they get a record and the kid runs free.The schools teach them that they cant be touched by their parents for bad behavior,then when caught they get a good lawyer opointed by the tax payer,these 2 have been really bad for society keep them in jail,sometimes it is beyond a parents control.Put them in a cell with a really big bloke called mary.

Samantha Wright3:45 am 05 Jan 23

I know a parent whom has been through the wringer with her 2 kids and asked for help from CYPS, BIMBERI AND THE LEGAL SYSTEM , yet denighed dye to their age and legislation. Yes maybe parents whom don’t try to fix this should be held accounted for .. but nit those who cry out for help .. especially if mental health comes into play too..

But Ms Mitchell said the new charges the boy had just been handed were now his seventh set of alleged offences, while he had also committed five breaches of bail in the last year.

Singapore has got it right. Time for the cane to make an appearance.

I totally agree with you waggamick it might just be the answer to a lot of these young criminals

bearlikesbeer9:54 am 05 Jan 23

You want the govt to beat children with sticks? You’re not well.

Trevor Willis4:35 pm 04 Jan 23

Where are the parents of these two young criminals? They should be held responsible for their children’s actions, made to appear with their sons, and suffer some sort of penalty as well. Maybe that way more parents will know where their kids are and what they are doing.

Agree that parents should take much more responsibility – there is a massive increase in destructive behaviour in many regional towns including Alice Springs with offenders posting on TikTok – locking them up doesn’t seem to be preventing

wodenresident4:31 pm 04 Jan 23

This story is a bit like a song by The Offspring called ‘Come out and play’

“If you’re under 18 you won’t be doing any time
Hey, come out and play.”

Except the judge exercised their descretion in line with community expectations and now they are going to jail 🙂

The 16-year-old became agitated when told he would stay behind bars, making comments like, “Can I say something?” The pair were remanded in custody and their matters were adjourned to later in January.

First thing he could say is ‘Sorry, I stuffed up’. and as for the custody and matter adjournment, I could suggest adjourned until JANUARY 2024 and give the good people of Gungahlin a quieter new year.

Samantha Wright3:42 am 05 Jan 23

Maybe the ” can I say something ” could have been an apology attempt but was not given the chance. Legislation is the problem not the parents or the children.

SigmaOctantis2:23 pm 04 Jan 23

More of Barr’s Heroes.

Finagen_Freeman6:37 pm 03 Jan 23

Barr says he’s too young to be held criminally responsible. Pretty sure that’s wrong!

Sounds good. Not factual though.

Refused bail for the rest of this week – out on the street next week to repeat under Labor/Greens lawlessness initiatives

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