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Twin teen girls get mixed appeal result for violent assault on a student and teachers

Twin teenage sisters received opposite outcomes in a bid for a review of sentences they received over a violent attack on a fellow Townsville student and three school teachers who tried to intervene. 

Queensland Childrens Court President Deborah Richards recently (18 November) allowed an appeal against sentence for one young girl but dismissed her twin sister’s request for a sentence review received in August (2020) for a series of serious assaults at a Townsville school. 

The court was told the twins, then aged 16 and identifiable only as “LTO’’ and “NTO’’, assaulted another student in an act of “revenge’’ that involved kicking and punching the victim as they lay helpless on the ground. 

Judge Richards delivered her decision in Toowoomba.“Teachers came to help (the student victim) but that did not stop the offending as the girls reached around to punch her while the teachers were trying to stand in between.’’ 

“The teachers ended up being assaulted as well. 

“LTO was a party to the offending by encouraging the assault on the young girl, but did not physically participate. She did however try to punch the girl once the teacher stood in the way and ended up assaulting him. 

“NTO did actually punch the young girl and then proceeded to assault three teachers in her efforts to get to the young girl when the teachers tried to protect her.’’ 

LTO, who pleaded guilty to two counts of assault causing bodily harm in company, was initially sentenced to three months’ detention to be served by way of a conditional release order. 

NTO, who pleaded guilty to the same two offences as well as two counts of common assault, was sentenced to four months’ detention to be served by way of a conditional release order. 

“In sentencing the two girls the magistrate notes that the assault was disturbing and serious in the fact that teachers were involved was a circumstance of aggravation,’’ Judge Richards said. 

“(The magistrate) concluded that the assaults were so serious … there was no other sentence that was appropriate other than detention, but that a conditional release order was appropriate.’’

The twins both appealed the sentences handed down in the Magistrates Court jurisdiction to the District Court on the grounds they were manifestly excessive. 

Judge Richards noted both girls were born in New Zealand, relocated to Australia at the age of 10 and had been living in care after the death of their mother and their father abandoned them and returned to New Zealand with his new partner. 

LTO’s application was allowed, with Judge Richards setting aside the conditional release order and substituting it with a restorative justice order under s175 of the Queensland Youth Justices Act. 

However, Judge Richards dismissed NTO’s application. 

“In relation to NTO, given her more serious history of offending, her more significant involvement in the offences, together with her deliberate assault of three teachers, it cannot be said in my view that the sentence imposed was manifestly excessive.’’ 

Read decision here: https://archive.sclqld.org.au/qjudgment/2020/QChC20-036.pdf 

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