Juvenile defendant given chance to prove himself

| 17/09/2017 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A young offender who pleaded guilty to one count of wounding in a knifing incident on Smith Road earlier this year was set free Friday after spending 5½ months on remand in HMP Northward. Justice Charles Quin handed down a six-month sentence suspended for 12 months, which included several strict conditions the juvenile must meet, after hearing arguments on behalf of the young man. Defence attorney Lee Halliday Davis recounted how her client had changed for the better during the months he spent in prison and included as evidence a letter he had written showing his remorse as well as his determination to stay on a positive path.

The judge also noted the presence of the young man’s mother in court and thanked her for supporting her son, while lamenting the lack of a father figure in the juvenile’s life.

“It’s clear that he had a very broken and unhappy upbringing,” he said, adding that the father seemed to have abandoned any responsibility for his son. “For a father not to be there to support his son is completely unacceptable and leads to tragic circumstances,” Justice Quin said, adding that the mother “had to pick up the pieces”.

The judge also told the courtroom that the young man’s time in prison gave him an opportunity to contemplate his future, to try to better himself and reject those people who have been a bad influence.

Among the mitigating factors noted in deciding the sentence were that the defendant had entered a guilty plea at the earliest opportunity, the wounding was an isolated incident and the victim, who was also a juvenile, was not seriously hurt.

When submitting the young man’s letter, the defence attorney noted how much he had changed since committing the crime, telling Justice Quin that while she was sure he received many letters, “the person who went into custody 5½ months ago would not have written this letter”.

During his submission regarding the sentencing, crown counsel Neil Kumar pointed to an aggravating feature, the fact that the incident occurred in a public place at a busy time of day, but added that the young age of the defendant “is a significant factor for any sentence that is to be imposed”.

In his letter, which was read out to the court by Justice Quin, the young man said that his time in prison had given him time to think, and that he wanted to do better for himself and for his mother’s sake. He wrote that he should have controlled himself and he was sorry for hurting the victim. He also said he wanted to get an education and better himself.

“I agree I need help to help me stay focused …I want to change my life and make my family proud,” he said in the letter, adding, “I want a chance to show and prove I’m willing to make a change.”

In handing down the sentence, Justice Quin set three conditions for the juvenile: he will have to observe a 9pm-6am curfew for 12 months; he has to live in his mother’s home during that time; and once enrolled in school (in that regard the Department of Children and Family Services is to “make every effort” to enrol him in school immediately), he must attend school each day as required. The judge emphasised that school “is an absolute must”.

The young man thanked the judge for giving him a chance, and Justice Quin offered one final admonition: “Let that be your last conviction, your very, very last one. Don’t ever come to court again.”

The  juvenile was later able to leave the courthouse with his mother.

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Category: Courts, Crime

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