No jail for CBD rampage
Teen’s autism not diagnosed until after incident
THE head of the children’s court says it is unfortunate a severe disability of a teen who rampaged through the CBD on Grand Final day was only diagnosed after his arrest.
The teen comes from a severely disadvantaged background, communicates at the level of a three- to five-yearold, has gone to a series of special schools and been under the supervision of authorities.
But it was only after his arrest, his severe autism — a key factor in the rampage — was diagnosed.
“It is unfortunate, indeed, that your complex needs, and the need for commensurate resources, were not identified much earlier,” Judge Amanda Chambers said.
The 16-year-old, who cannot be named because of his age, pleaded guilty to six charges, including reckless conduct endangering life and assaulting police during the incident on September 30.
Judge Chambers praised police, saying they could have reasonably believed they were dealing with a terrorist.
“They are to be commended for their measured response which avoided placing you at risk of harm while at the same time safeguarding the members of the community who were present,” Judge Chambers said.
The teen narrowly missed pedestrians, cyclists and trams as he drove erratically near Federation Square and Flinders St station dressed in military-style combat gear.
After swerving between trams and mounting footpaths, the teen got out of the car armed with a bicycle pump as terrified onlookers ran away.
He swung the pump at a police officer who tried to stop him with capsicum spray, which had little effect because he was wearing a helmet. Other officers tackled the teen and subdued him with a Taser.
The boy is profoundly disabled, struggles to form friendships or interact with others. He spent three months in youth detention on remand alone in his room.
“Your complex needs are now being met for the first time,” Judge Chambers said.
She sentenced the boy to a 12-month youth supervision order and said he had good prospects of rehabilitation. He cannot drive a car or use the internet without supervision.