How many chances: Judge scrubs serial criminal’s record to save him from dole queue

A serial youth offender with “19 pages of previous criminal history” has had convictions against him for breaking into a house and multiple car thefts scrubbed from the record on orders delivered by the Children’s Court.

Jan 19, 2023, updated Jan 19, 2023
 Photo: ABC

Photo: ABC

The decision by Children’s Court Judge Ian Dearden to overturn the recorded convictions was published on January 13 on grounds the offender’s rehabilitation and employment prospects would be impeded should the recorded convictions stand.

Dearden, a former president of the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties, last year granted an appeal from lawyers acting on behalf of the child, identifiable only as WAD, to overturn convictions recorded against him on March 8, 2022 by a Mount Isa magistrate.

The recorded convictions related to eight criminal offences, including unlawful use of a motor vehicle, enter premises to commit an indictable offence and a minor drug matter.

The crimes occurred on February 15, 2022, three days after WAD was released from detention, where the offending was “quite persistent, opportunistic and took advantage of vulnerable communities”, according to Dearden’s judgement.

WAD received three months’ youth detention for the house break-in and three car thefts plus reprimands for the other offences, but the sentencing magistrate “erred in recording a conviction”, Dearden said.

A full account of Dearden’s judgement via the Queensland Law Society’s Proctor publication is available here.

The decision comes as the political heat rises on youth crime, further inflamed overnight after four teenage boys allegedly held a community on the western Darling Downs to ransom after allegedly shooting at a car, triggering a response from 30 police and an emergency declaration to shut down half the town of Tara.

In reflecting on the overnight events, Opposition Leader David Crisafulli described Queensland’s current youth justice system as a “merry-go-round of madness”.

“When did we get to the point where teenagers would fire at a car with police and people caught in the firing line,” he said.

“How have we got to this stage, for goodness’ sake?”

Crisafulli has reiterated his calls for the government to return from the summer break and recall parliament early before its late February sitting to debate the Youth Justice Act.

He maintains Labor’s watering down of the legislation in 2015 has created a new generation of “repeat, hardcore youth offenders.”

“There are a generation of repeat, hardcore offenders who know their rights outweigh the rights of victims,” he said.

“Queenslanders are living it in the cities and in the bush and they’ve had enough.

“And every time the government has had a knee-jerk reaction to whatever the issue of the day is, they have never changed the view that consequences for actions are not embedded in the Youth Justice Act.”

When asked by InQueensland if the Palaszczuk Government was soft on youth offenders, Youth Justice Minister Leanne Linard replied: “Youth crime is a complex issue and there are no simple solutions, but the government is committed to doing whatever it can by delivering strong laws and more police resources”.

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“Unlike the LNP who have been in opposition for 640 days and are yet to create a youth justice plan.”

Linard said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced reforms in December including amending the Youth Justice Act so courts would be required by legislation to take previous bail history, criminal activity and an offender’s track record into account when sentencing.

“The raft of reforms to make Queensland’s youth justice response even tougher is currently open for consultation with submissions invited from all Queenslanders whether they be in the city or the bush,” she said.

“That consultation period needs to take place before the tough new laws are introduced into parliament next month.”








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