THE sentencing of a teenage motorcyclist who ran into and seriously injured a girl playing football on Wagga’s Jubilee Park has taken a twist with a judge ruling a magistrate erred in referring the matter to the District Court.
The 17-year-old boy, who can be identified only as TG, appeared before Judge David Arnott in Wagga District Court for sentencing on Tuesday after pleading guilty in the Children’s Court to dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm.
The boy rode a trail bike onto a packed Jubilee Park on May 7 and struck an 11-year-old girl who was playing in an AFL carnival.
Her injuries included three broken ribs, fractures to her lower back, a fractured pelvis and cuts to her leg.
The boy has been in custody since his immediate arrest.
The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions on July 30 made a successful application to Wagga magistrate Erin Kennedy to have TG dealt with “at law” in the District court instead of the Children’s Court, arguing that sentencing options in the lower court were inadequate for the seriousness of this case.
The boy’s solicitor, Kate Bleasel, put to Judge Arnott on Tuesday that Ms Kennedy had erred under the Children’s (Criminal Proceedings) Act by not taking into account a Juvenile Justice background report on TG when making the decision to remit the case to the District Court.
Judge Arnott was told such a report was not available to Ms Kennedy at the time she sent the matter to the higher court.
Crown solicitor Virginia Morgan put to Judge Arnott in reply that the Act did not say a background report was mandatory, only that a magistrate could take a report into account if it was available.
But Judge Arnott said he believed the objective of the legislation was that a background report should be considered.
He ordered the case be remitted back to the Children’s Court for it to again decide whether or not sentencing should be in that jurisdiction or in District Court.
Even if the case goes to the District Court a second time, Ms Bleasel on Tuesday flagged further legal argument that, if successful, could see the matter sent back to the Children’s Court yet again for finalising.
That argument involves among other things TG’s intellectual disability, his immaturity and his limited criminal history.
The case will be listed in Wagga Children’s Court on a date not yet known.
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