Would-be terrorist finds outlet in golf
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.’’