Outrage over decision to wipe kid crim’s convictions

THE decision of a panel of judges to overturn a ruling and erase a repeat offender's convictions, is not in line with community expectations, a politician has said.

Hundreds of Townsville residents voiced their concerns after the Bulletin revealed the now-18-year-old had his slate wiped clean after the Court of Appeal found the burden of his criminal activity would weigh too heavily on his future.

Frustrated community members voiced their concerns online saying they believed the law was protecting kiddie crims.

Queensland Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman sidestepped the question when she was asked if she believed the ruling was in line with community expectations.

"An independent judiciary is a fundamental tenant of our democracy," she said before championing the "swift action" and "real leadership" the government demonstrated when it promised to change youth bail laws.

Queensland Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman speaks during Question Time at Parliament House in Brisbane. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
Queensland Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman speaks during Question Time at Parliament House in Brisbane. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled

Shadow Attorney-General Tim Nicholls said the Court of Appeal ruling maintained the custodial sentence, but erased the convictions for a boy who pleaded guilty to armed robbery, assault occasioning bodily harm and 11 other offences.

"It's clear that in applying the Labor Government's Youth Justice Act the court has come down on the side of the offender rather than victim," he said.

Former police officer and Burdekin MP Dale Last said he believed the boy should carry the "stigma" of his "serious" and violent offending.

"I don't think it is good enough," he said.

"He should hang his head in shame ... and he should have those convictions recorded against his name for the rest of his life."

Chair of the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council and former Children's Court Judge John Robertson said the decisions that went into sentencing youth offenders were complex and not based on emotion or public rhetoric.

"The effect on the victim is just one factor that the court takes into account when imposing a sentence," he said.

"Judges don't have a free kick."

Mr Robertson said the community should not "expect" the criminal justice system, as it stood, to solve the complex problems posed by a small group of youth offenders repeatedly breaking the law.

He said he believed there was a glaring gap in the system which called for a "nuanced" and evidence-based early intervention program aimed at breaking the cycle when kids first come into contact with the system.

Originally published as Outrage over decision to wipe kid crim's convictions


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