NQ youth repeat offender denied bail due to community safety risk

A North Queensland judge has highlighted the myriad complexities of the state’s youth justice bail laws in a decision to return a 14-year-old boy to detention because he poses a danger to community safety if released.

Cairns Supreme Court Justice James Henry last month granted a police prosecution application to overturn a magistrate’s decision to grant bail to a child – identifiable only as JOD – after numerous breaches and a “clear pattern of repeat offending”.

On 20 October, Justice Henry revoked conditional bail granted to JOD by a Childrens Court magistrate nine days earlier, and after the child breached conditional bail on six days after his release from detention.

The decision, published on Wednesday this week, has surfaced less than a week after an independent review of Queensland’s youth justice bail laws found children were being detained in greater numbers, and for longer periods of time, since they were introduced.

In April last year, the Queensland Government implemented laws to remove the presumption of bail for children caught committing serious offences while on conditional release.

The amendments to the Youth Justice Act 1992 mean children who are an unacceptable risk to the safety of the community must not be granted bail and will be kept in custody.


Justice Henry, in his five-page decision, said that on the evidence submitted to the court by police prosecutors, JOD did pose a significant risk to community safety if released.

“(JOD) has an appalling juvenile criminal history including many offences of unlawful use of a motor vehicle, stealing, trespass, burglary, and entering premises and committing indictable offences,” Justice Henry said.

“He has received multiple cautions, reprimands, good behaviour bonds, Restorative Justice Court Diversion referrals, probation orders and community service orders.

“Earlier this year between 25 March and 17 May he served 53 days detention as his sentence for offending including four burglaries, one attempted burglary, five unlawful use of motor vehicles, two dangerous operation of motor vehicles, and charges of possession of implements and receiving tainted property.”

The court was told JOD was arrested and appeared in the Cairns Magistrates Court – in its jurisdiction as a Childrens Court – on 11 October and was granted bail after two earlier failed applications in Innisfail on 23 September and Cairns on 27 September.

Police subsequently appealed the magistrate’s decision seeking a review and revocation of JOD’s conditional release in the Supreme Court.


Justice Henry, in rescinding JOD’s bail and issuing a warrant for his immediate dentition, detailed JOD’s recent interactions with the courts and his recidivist offending while on bail.

“The charges the subject of this review, his guilt of which is admitted, continue (JOD’s) entrenched pattern of offending, particularly by burglary and unlawful use of motor vehicles,” Justice Henry said.

“Those offences are: three charges of unlawful use of a motor vehicle, three charges of burglary, and one charge each of unlawful possession of suspected stolen property and receiving tainted property.

“At the time of those offences, committed on 22 and 23 September 2022, (JOD) was on bail for four counts of robbery whilst armed in company.

“The conditions of that bail required him to live at a named address with his grandmother and not be found away from that address between 9pm and 6am, unless with his grandmother, and that he not contact (alleged victims).

“He was arrested for the offences the subject of this review on 23 September 2022 and refused bail in the Innisfail Magistrates Court the following day.


“He made a further application for bail on 27 September 2022 in the Cairns Magistrates Court and again bail was refused.”

In October, JOD pleaded guilty to his most recent offending in the Cairns Magistrates Court and was released on bail and remanded to appear for sentencing on 1 November, on condition he reside with his grandmother and obeyed a curfew.

“During the curfew period since his release on bail … (JOD) was not home during the curfew time on 11 October – the very day that he was granted bail – 12 October, 13 October, 14 October, 15 October and 17 October,” he said.

“The fact that (JOD) was on bail at the time of the offences the subject of this review, a circumstance which placed him in a show-cause position, is of course concerning.

“However, the greater concern arises out of his pattern of offending involving burglaries and unlawful use of motor vehicles.

“True it is, in committing the latest offences he was not on bail for offences of that category and, rather, was on bail for the robbery offences.


“But it remains that he has a long history of burglary and unlawful use of motor vehicle type offences and those types of offences were of course offences for which he was in detention earlier this year.

“That (JOD), in the most recent set of offending, has effectively continued with his pattern of committing burglary and unlawful use of motor vehicle offences, points to an extremely high risk that he will commit further such offences whilst on bail.

“It doubtless explains why at least the first two Magistrates referred to earlier refused him bail.”

Justice Henry noted the types of offending committed by JOD – breaking into premises and taking keys to steal cars – endangered the safety of the community “because of the risk of violence occurring between the juvenile and victim residents, and because vehicles being unlawfully used by untrained children drivers are at risk of crashing and doing injury”.

“None of this is to suggest that in every case where a juvenile with a history of burglary and unlawful use of motor vehicles again commits like offences they ought be refused bail.

“But in the present case, there is such a clear pattern of repeat offending of that kind as to so raise the likelihood of the juvenile continuing to commit such offences that I am satisfied there is an unacceptable risk the respondent will commit an offence that endangers the safety of the community if released on bail.”


Read the decision.

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