3 May 2023

Skatepark stabber sentenced for breaking into witness's home, punching their mother

| Albert McKnight
Law Court

The teenager acquitted of murder at the Weston Creek skatepark has been handed a jail sentence over several offences. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The teenager found not guilty of murdering a man at the Weston Creek skatepark has been jailed for a string of crimes committed just weeks after he was handed his sentence for stabbing a boy.

Last August, he was sentenced and allowed to leave custody for stabbing the 16-year-old in the back during the skatepark brawl in 2020 where the 18-year-old man was killed.

But less than 10 days later, he repeatedly punched a former friend at a Club Lime gym in Canberra.

The friend told him he didn’t want to speak to him, then the teenager became aggressive and started punching him in the face, even when he tried to walk away.

About three-and-a-half weeks after this incident, he broke into the home of a person who had been a witness in his murder trial by using a rock to smash a window.

He went into the witness’s bedroom, who wasn’t home at the time, where he was interrupted by the witness’s mother.

The teenager told her, “Give me the f-king keys”, and punched her in the head. She grabbed him and forced him out of the house and he said, “Don’t touch me or I’ll stab you”.

He kicked the witness’s car and stole his jacket before leaving.

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He would later tell a clinical psychologist, “I broke into a snitch’s house and punched his mum in the face”.

“I had gone to support him in a fight, and then he dogs me in,” the teenager said.

The mother was now scared in her own home, anxious she may be attacked again and lived in constant fear that someone may burst in and harm her, Chief Justice Lucy McCallum told the ACT Supreme Court on Wednesday (3 May).

The teenager, who is now 18 but legally can’t be named, pleaded guilty to charges of burglary, assault, minor theft and damaging property over these crimes.

While he was also originally charged with committing a reprisal against a person involved in a legal proceeding, this charge was later withdrawn.

He has been in custody since his arrest in September 2022.

Chief Justice McCallum said, unfortunately, the fresh offending indicated a need for the court to give greater priority to protecting the community.

But she said the teenager had been diagnosed with autism since the fresh offences, which meant much of his previous conduct could be explained.

She also said he needed open heart surgery in the next three to six months to replace a valve as he had congenital heart disease which, if not treated, would shorten his life expectancy.

She said she had been told on the day she was to hand down her sentence that he had been scheduled for the surgery later this month and needed a pre-admission check about a week beforehand.

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The chief justice said it was “difficult not to feel a bit manipulated”, but whatever might have been the appropriate sentence, it was clear she must impose a sentence that allowed the surgery to proceed.

The teenager was sentenced to jail for the three months remaining on the suspended sentence he received for stabbing the 16-year-old, as well as a total of six months for the fresh offences, which was backdated to account for time served and suspended from this weekend.

He must then comply with a good behaviour order until December 2023.

In 2022, a jury in a Supreme Court trial found the teenager not guilty of murdering an 18-year-old man during a fight at the skatepark on 27 September 2020, when he was just 15 years old.

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