Judge cuts ‘excessive’ sentence for child burglar, car thief
A COURT has reduced the "manifestly excessive" sentence of a child offender who broke into a department store and was involved in car thefts across the Darling Downs.
The offender, referred to in the judgment published this week as JRE, pleaded guilty in April to a string of burglary, unlawful use of a motor vehicle and drug offences between June 2019 and January 2020.
Dalby Childrens Court heard the child and four other offenders gained entry to a Target Country by throwing rocks as the glass doors and windows.
Upon entry, they damaged money tills and a display cabinet, and stole mobile phones, game consoles and money.
On July 9, 2019, the offender, who was 15 at the time, stole a Volkswagen after retrieving the keys from the complainant's home, and petrol from a service station.
Ten days later, he was the passenger in a Volkswagen that was stolen from Chinchilla.
He was also the passenger in a stolen Holden Commodore on November 8, 2019, which was driven at speed on the Balonne Highway.
Police found the offender, who fled through neighbouring yards, and took him to the Cunnamulla watch house.
Officers located 1.6 grams of cannabis in his possession.
He was also a passenger in a Subaru stolen from Toowoomba on December 28, 2019 and was involved in an attempt to steal a Toyota HiLux on January 10, 2020.
He was initially sentenced to 12 months' probation for the Target burglary and three months' detention for the motor vehicle theft, immediately suspended by way of a conditional release order.
For the remaining charges he was handed 203 days in detention.
The periods of detention were the subject of review in Dalby Childrens Court earlier this month.
Judge Deborah Richards said the magistrate could and should have considered the 203 days the teenager spent in detention prior to his sentence.
"She did not state specifically why she thought it was appropriate to impose a term of detention on the child, particularly an additional term of detention to be served by way of a conditional release order," she said.
"Whilst the magistrate was entitled to, and should have taken into account the fact that he spent 203 days in custody prior to sentence, it was not appropriate, in my view, to sentence him to 203 days in custody."
"Nor is it possible to declare the 203 days as time served.
"The Crown has conceded that he sentence is manifestly excessive and submits that in all the circumstances a term of probation was appropriate. I agree with that proposition."
The terms of detention and conditional release order were set aside, and the child was sentenced to 12 months' probation for those offences.