15 December 2022

Man guilty of destroying evidence linked to fatal brawl at Weston Creek skatepark

| Albert McKnight
The scene of the police investigation at the skatepark at Weston

The scene of the police investigation at the skatepark at Weston in 2020. Photo: Michael Weaver.

A young offender has been found guilty of destroying evidence linked to the fatal brawl at the Weston Creek skatepark after burning a hat that had been picked up at the scene.

He did not join the fight on 27 September 2020, where an 18-year-old was killed, and a 16-year-old was stabbed in the back.

But the day afterwards, some of those involved met up at his house where a 15-year-old admitted stabbing someone and pulled the hat out of his pants.

The then-18-year-old offender allegedly told him, “Give it here; I’ll get rid of it”. He took the hat, put it in a plastic bag and burnt it a few days later.

He admitted doing so when police searched his house for the second time in November 2020, telling them, “Okay, I f-king did it; I burnt the hat”.

The court heard that it belonged to the 16-year-old who was stabbed in the back.

The offender fought his charge at an ACT Supreme Court trial that began earlier this week, but jurors deliberated for just two hours on Wednesday (14 December) before finding him guilty of destroying evidence with the intention of influencing a decision about starting a legal proceeding.

The 20-year-old made no visible reaction when the guilty verdict was read out.

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During the closing addresses for the trial on Wednesday, prosecutor Trent Hickey had argued that the hat was evidence that linked the stabber and others to the crime.

He argued that due to how others had talked about what happened at the skatepark, the offender knew someone had died and police had turned up to search his house, it must have been “painfully obvious” to him that police were investigating a potential murder.

In the address by the offender’s barrister, Travis Jackson, he said a police officer had told the court they thought his client had possibly been bordering on crying during a search of his home.

A recording of the search was played to jurors, and Mr Jackson said they would have heard the voice of his client, a “scared, confused and frightened young man trying to navigate this situation”, a situation that was created by others.

He also said his client had made omissions rather than lies; for instance, when pressed, he had told police about the hat.

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After the verdict was announced, Chief Justice Lucy McCallum told the 12 jurors that she was grateful for their hard work and attention before discharging them.

She continued the offender’s bail and will sentence him on Friday (16 December) if a court report is obtained by then.

Earlier this year, a jury found the then-15-year-old stabber not guilty of murdering the 18-year-old during the fight, although he did admit stabbing the 16-year-old for which he was handed a suspended sentence.

The stabber is now behind bars, awaiting sentencing for a string of crimes, including a reprisal against a witness in the murder trial.

All of the offenders in this matter are legally unable to be named due to their ages at the time or suppression orders.

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