In what a justice called a “truly appalling crime”, a teenager was ambushed, beaten up, attacked with a hammer, and then clung to the back of his car as it sped away in a bid to stop his assailants, including a 14-year-old boy, from stealing it.
The 17-year-old began talking to a person over the social media application Snapchat in March 2021, during which they discussed their sexuality before agreeing to meet up late at night in Kaleen that month, court documents say.
After he arrived at Staaten Crescent, two males opened the door of his car. Wielding a box cutter and a knife, they demanded he both “get out” and “start driving”, then began punching and kicking him in the face when he wouldn’t comply.
More people arrived, grabbed his keys while he was out of his car and tried to start it. He sought to get the keys back and stop the assailants from closing the car’s door, but one person held a box cutter to his neck and another hit him with a hammer.
He was dragged away as his assailants started his car, but then jumped onto the back of it and grabbed an antenna as it left before it sped off along Maribyrnong Avenue.
The 17-year-old let go and fell onto the road when the car slowed down on Chuculba Crescent. He flagged down a passing driver for help and police arrived to find him covered in injuries.
A 16-year-old boy, who had been 14 at the time, pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated robbery over the incident and was brought before the ACT Supreme Court for sentencing on Wednesday (9 November) where he read out a letter he had written.
“Yes, I have done wrong things in the past, and I understand that,” he said.
“I’m currently in Bimberi [Youth Justice Centre] learning from my mistakes.”
His barrister, Rajiv Baldeo, said he had suffered from several mental health conditions that had been unknown and untreated.
Mr Baldeo argued that his client was “such a young boy” suffering from conditions that affected “how he sees the world”. He said that Justice Michael Elkaim should find his culpability was diminished due to this.
Justice Elkaim said on one level, the boy was “doing his best to serve his apprenticeship as a long-term criminal” as he already had a significant criminal record, but on the other hand, he did have a tragic history with little chance to live a normal life.
He described the incident as a “horrific crime of aggravated robbery” involving weapons and other people in which the boy “may” have played a leading role.
“If he had been an adult, he would be facing a significant term in prison,” he said.
He also said the boy had a degree of maturity that made him significantly culpable for the offences, but his many mental health issues influenced his state of development.
Justice Elkaim also said the boy seemed to recognise what he had done was wrong. He said, “time will tell, but he needs the opportunity to change”.
“Ultimately, there is a truly appalling crime committed by a deprived young man with a history which has effectively dictated his path into serious offending,” he said.
The boy had already spent 311 days in custody, but some of that time was for a different sentence.
He was sentenced to 20 months’ jail, backdated by five months, then suspended after he has served another five, which means he will be released from custody in April 2023 if he signs a 12-month good behaviour order.