An 11-year-old Perth boy, the youngest accused in Australia, is now awaiting for his bail. The boy appeared in Perth Children’s Court on Wednesday via video link from Banksia Hills Juvenile Detention Centre, with his parents by his side.
After the hearing, the court’s president, Judge Denis Reynolds, said he would require additional informational regarding the boy’s living standard, school safety, and about his whereabouts, if he is granted bail. To require this, the president has adjourned the session until March 04.
The court was told that on January 27, around 2.45 am to 3.30 am, two groups broke into an intense fight near the corner of St Georges Terrace and William Street. Eventually the groups moved apart, as the victim’s group walked towards the Esplanade Train Station. It was alleged that the 11-year-old Perth boy, whose name is not going to be made public, and his companions equipped themselves with pickets, rocks, a screw driver, and a socket bar. They chased the victim, 26-year-old, Patrick Steven Slater, and his group and threw rocks at them. One of the rocks, apparently, hit Slater’s head, he was thus, cornered and was beaten till he was unconscious. Later, he was taken to Royal Perth Hospital, where he succumbed to death.
All the accused have been arrested. According to the boy’s lawyer, Heather Prince, he is a ‘gentle and sensitive boy’ with no criminal records, but coming from a broken family. He is also disturbed as he has witnessed his brother’s death when he was only 5. His brother, at that time was 7, was ran over by an ice cream truck while crossing the road. His family, ever since, failed to recover, and the boy roaming around the street of Perth at so late at night was nothing new.
All these information along with how the boy will be taken care of, his education, safety of other children at school, his safety, his well being, everything needs to be considered before Judge Reynolds comes to a conclusion.
“We’re not in a position to be able to decide bail today,” Judge Reynolds said.
Meanwhile, Slater’s family showed disappointment in the Judge’s decision. His mother, Cynthia Brockman broke down: “That was my only son, why take my only son?”
The boy, the groups and the victim are all Aboriginals. The boy’s arrest had once again pinpointed the rate of indigenous youth getting arrested in Western Australia. According to a Noongar elder, Uncle Ben Taylor, it is a “very sad” case.
“As a 76-year-old elder I have seen my people suffer and it’s still going on,” Taylor said.
He further added, “something’s got to be done, we need more refuges, we need more employment, [to] stop this poverty … I am just tired as an elder from watching my people die so young.”
“I’m very sad at all of this. A young 11-year-old boy running the streets at three o’clock in the morning … and all this feuding going on.”
In Australia, children as young as 10-year-old can be charged with murder. This has been highly criticised by The Amnesty International, and United Nation.
Amnesty International Report last year recorded that a combined number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children reached 62% of all 10 and 11-year-olds in detention in 2012-13. The rate is quite alarming. The report further said that this rate is actually “much higher than even the rate at which black people are incarcerated in the United States, which is, as you probably know, the highest in the world”.