Would-be ter­ror­ist finds out­let in golf

Nelson Mail - - NEWS - DAVID CLARK­SON

Life is feel­ing more pos­i­tive – and golf is pro­vid­ing an out­let – for a teenager who once planned to com­mit a ter­ror­ist at­tack in Christchurch.

The youth spoke for the first time dur­ing his hear­ings yes­ter­day when he ad­dressed the judge at the Christchurch District Court where he had come along for a ju­di­cial mon­i­tor­ing ses­sion.

The teenager left school at 15 years old, con­verted to Is­lam and be­came rad­i­calised on­line. Last year he planned to ram a car into a group of peo­ple and then stab them un­til the po­lice killed him ‘‘for Al­lah’’. He went through with threat­en­ing a vi­o­lent in­ci­dent but ‘‘de­cided not to hurt any­body be­cause he did not have the means to kill enough peo­ple’’.

Yes­ter­day, Judge Stephen O’Driscoll was ask­ing him about his golf hand­i­cap af­ter hear­ing he had been al­lowed to try the sport un­der his two-year su­per­vi­sion sen­tence since his sen­tenc­ing on weapon, threats, and dam­age charges in Fe­bru­ary. Judges can choose to mon­i­tor peo­ple dur­ing their sen­tences and get reg­u­lar re­ports. Com­mu­nity Cor­rec­tions is su­per­vis­ing the teenager while he lives in sup­ported ac­com­mo­da­tion.

In court the 18-year old asked and was granted per­mis­sion to read a state­ment he had writ­ten for the judge.

He said there had been ‘‘many pos­i­tive changes’’ in his be­hav­iour, ac­tions and prob­lem solv­ing.

‘‘Pos­i­tive goals I have been work­ing on in­clude cor­re­spon­dence, life skills, his­tory cour­ses and coun­selling. I have been at­tend­ing all my coun­selling ses­sions . . . My favourite ac­tiv­ity is golf.

‘‘I have been at­tend­ing vis­its at the mosque and have been dis­cussing re­li­gious viewpoints. I have been work­ing on strate­gies to help me deal with the prob­lems I face in life . . . I am also learn­ing to re­spect other peo­ple and their opin­ions.’’

Com­mu­nity Cor­rec­tions told the judge they were pleased with his progress.

Judge O’Driscoll said they had had a spe­cial mon­i­tor­ing meet­ing on March 28. ‘‘I am very pleased with what I have read in the re­ports that have been pro­vided to me say­ing you are mak­ing progress and there has been a marked im­prove­ment in your at­ti­tude and your gen­eral out­look on life.’’

He re­manded the case for a mon­i­tor­ing ses­sion on May 15.

The youth seemed con­fused when the judge asked him about his hand­i­cap, while de­fence coun­sel Anselm Williams tried to ex­plain it to him. The youth replied, ‘‘Yeah, I hit it far.’’

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