Police believe a group of young teenage girls, most of whom are facing the courts accused of stealing a car after holding a knife to a woman’s throat, allegedly encourage each other to commit crimes.
ACT Policing arrested four teens, who cannot be named, on Monday (19 April) after a Toyota Corolla was allegedly stolen by at least two girls wielding a large, silver kitchen knife.
Police allege that during the theft, the vehicle’s owner was struck twice in the head with a laptop, had a knife held to her throat and was hit by the car as the girls drove away. She also received a wound to her hand.
Police allege three girls involved in the attack met a fourth girl at a bus stop who then drove the car before it crashed on Fairbairn Avenue in Campbell. The girls were all arrested a short time later.
Three girls, whom Region Media will label 1, 2 and 3, were charged with assault, aggravated robbery, riding in or driving a motor vehicle without consent as well as possessing an offensive weapon with intent.
Girls 1 and 2 (aged 14 and 15) faced the ACT Children’s Court on Tuesday (20 April) along with Girl 4 (aged 14). She was charged with driving a motor vehicle without consent and being an unlicenced driver. All applied to be released on bail.
In the courtroom, the prosecutor said police believed that the girls “entice each other to commit offences”.
For that reason, she said the girls should not contact each other if granted bail.
During the hearing for Girl 1, the prosecutor described the accusations as “extremely serious offending” and opposed bail as she had “serious concerns about community safety”, particularly over the allegation the girl held the knife to the woman’s throat.
She also said the alleged assault took place over a decent period of time and that it was a “sustained effort” by the three co-accused.
She said the woman had told the prosecution she now had “significant concerns” about her safety.
Magistrate Robert Cook said the “danger arises immediately” when it came to a 14-year-old driving a car because a person of that age would have no driving history.
The lawyer for Girl 2 said her client had made “forthright comments” to police about the incident and that the girl did not agree any violence had been planned.
On several occasions, Magistrate Cook commented on the serious nature of the alleged offences.
“These are not trivial matters in any way; they are serious matters,” he told Girl 2.The girls’ lawyers had requested that media be excluded from the courtroom over concerns that any reporting could identify their clients, but Magistrate Cook denied these requests; instead, he applied several non-publication orders over aspects of the matter to protect the girls’ identities.
Magistrate Cook granted each of the teens bail, with conditions including they not contact each other. He adjourned their cases to May with Girls 1 and 4 to enter pleas at the next occasion.
The third girl charged over the incident will face the ACT Children’s Court in early May.