Story of teenage repeat offender a jolting reminder of why bail laws need toughening: opinion

THERE could scarcely be a more potent example of our city’s wrestle with youth crime than an elderly woman being targeted in her own home three times in as many months.

Last Tuesday, the 89-year-old Turvey Park woman awoke to discover three males robbing her house, later telling police similar break-ins had happened twice previously this year.

The obvious question is how desperate and deplorable does a person have to be to repeatedly target a vulnerable old lady?

The release of one of the teen suspects on bail this week prompts other questions.

The 15-year-old boy was locked up over the weekend for the Turvey Park break-in and granted conditional bail by Wagga Children’s Court on Monday. 

Within 24 hours, he was allegedly up to his old tricks, pinged by police again for aggravated break and enter.

When NSW attorney general Mark Speakman was in town for the courthouse refurbishment opening this week, he boasted how NSW was leading the nation in bail laws.

“We have the toughest bail laws in Australia,” he trumpeted.

The farce surrounding this teen makes a mockery of such claims.

It may be true the justice system has to walk the often-perilous tightrope between punishment and rehabilitation, but its highest duty is to protect the community.

Anyone on charges of breaking into a home while the residents are inside should have a presumption against bail, regardless of their age.

Because of the system’s failure to protect the community in this instance, another family has allegedly been victimised.

The impact of break and enters on victims is deeply profound, eroding a person’s faith in their community and making them scared in the place they should feel the safest – their home.

Police are doing a commendable job in tracking down and locking up repeat offenders.

They are privately as frustrated as the rest of us with the continued impotence of the justice system.

In a democracy, people have the power to shape new laws.

As more of those people or their loved ones become victims, the clarion call for change will grow louder.

And our politicians will have no choice but to listen.