Gang member’s shocking court appearance
A JUDGE asked a 12-year-old armed robber to move out of the dock at court so he could be seen while being sentenced for a knifepoint holdup.
The boy's head was barely visible over the 1m high timber partition at the Southport Children's Court today.
When the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, sat down he was not visible at all from the public gallery.
Judge Katherine McGinness, who sits on an elevated platform in the courtroom, said she was unable to see the boy even when he stood.
Instead she asked him to sit next to his lawyers for the duration of the proceedings.
When he sat in a large office chair next to his lawyer, the boy's legs hung at least 30cm off the ground.
The boy was no more than about 145cm tall. He was skinny, had neatly cut blonde hair and wore a bottle green prison issue jumper which appeared about two sizes too big.
He did not cry throughout the sentence.
He spoke confidently when he pleaded guilty to one count of armed robbery.
The boy had already spent 82 days in detention.
Prosecutor Denise Darwen told the court the boy was 12 years and one month old when he went into the Burleigh Heads 7 Eleven with a knife and demanded the 24-year-old attendant give him cash about 9.40pm on June 28 last year.
"He was wearing a hooded jumper and tried to cover his face," she said.
Ms Darwen said the cashier gave the boy $419 from the cash register and he left.
Another boy was standing look out at the door also fled.
Ms Darwen said the boy was a "very young first offender" and was arrested the next day.
He was found with a knife and one of his fingerprints were found on the glass countertop in the 7 Eleven.
Judge McGinness sentenced the boy to restorative justice.
"Even if you did not intend to hurt him, things could have gone wrong and he could have gone to hospital," she said.
Restorative justice is where a juvenile is sent to a conference with those most affected by the crime.
At the conference it is explained to them what they did wrong, the consequences and repairing the harm caused to the victim.
The boy's mum sat in the back of court as barrister Sarah Thompson, instructed by Bamberry Lawyers, argued the boy should not remain in detention.
Judge McGinness asked the woman what she thought.
"(My son) and I have a very good relationship and he is respectful of me," she said.
"There have been challenges and complexities which have some barriers for him."
The mother said she and the boy spoke a lot over the Christmas period.
"I am hoping that with some time he can go back to the intelligent and polite child that he is," she said.
His Instagram account references "Southside", a juvenile crime gang based in the southern suburbs of Brisbane, and also proclaims "crime after crime".
At the end of proceedings, the boy was led into the holding cells so he could be returned to the watchhouse before being released.
Police officers had to kneel to handcuff him, as is the usual process when taking an offender from court to the watchhouse.
No conviction was recorded.