Natasha Rudra August 01, 2012
A teenager who took part in brutally violent robberies in Canberra’s south that left one boy in a coma has been given a two-year suspended sentence.
The boy, who cannot be named, stood by while a young man was bashed in the head with a hammer in a robbery at the Weston Creek skate park in December 2010.
Later that night the then-17-year-old helped beat up and rob two young men on a footbridge near a fast food outlet in Erindale.
ACT Supreme Court Justice Hilary Penfold said the boy was part of a group of young men who carried out the robberies and drove other group members to the skate park and to Erindale on December 6 and 7.
The group approached two brothers who had just finished skateboarding at Weston and one of the brothers was struck in the head with a hammer. The brothers eventually fled and the group used a skateboard to break the window of one brother’s car, stealing his backpack and items, including his mobile phone.
After the robbery the brother who had been bashed collapsed and was hospitalised in an induced coma.
Later that night the group went to an Erindale fast food outlet and robbed two friends who had bought takeaway and were eating it at a nearby footbridge. They bashed the two young men with their fists, a metal pole and the hammer before stealing their wallets and phones.
The teen was identified through DNA on his hat and after one of the victims saw his picture on Facebook.
The court heard he had Tourette’s syndrome and had been under treatment by a psychiatrist at the time.
He told police that he had been the victim of a robbery himself and ‘‘it felt good’’ to do it to someone else when he took part in the robberies, but said the feeling faded soon afterwards.
Justice Penfold said the incidents were frightening and dangerous for the victims.
She said the boy was not coerced into joining his friends but had struggled with wanting to fit in with the group and the realisation that what they were doing was wrong.
The judge said she hoped the teenager’s brush with the law had given him ‘‘a great fright’’ but noted his remorse and said the public had no greater interest than ensuring his rehabilitation.
The court heard the boy had co-operated with police and agreed to give evidence against other members of the group who were set for trial.
Justice Penfold allowed the boy a six-month discount on his sentence for giving evidence, saying she would have also imposed 160 hours of community service if not for his willingness to give evidence.
She sentenced him to a total of two years of jail, fully suspended, and placed him on a good-behaviour order for 2 and 1/2 years.