A 15-year-old boy from Cunnamulla, referred to as “Jason,” will remain on bail after a failed application by police to revoke his bail. Jason, who has a significant criminal history, was granted bail on 10 May 2024 in Toowoomba Children’s Court. The police application under section 19B of the Bail Act 1980 (Qld) cited concerns about an unacceptable risk of Jason committing further offenses, specifically breaking and entering houses and stealing cars.

Court Proceedings and Decisions

In a decision delivered by Justice Davis in the Supreme Court of Brisbane, it was revealed that Jason had been convicted of numerous offenses between October 2021 and April 2024. Justice Davis described Jason as a “serial burglar and thief of motor vehicles,” noting his convictions for various crimes including:

  • Burglary
  • Theft of motor vehicles
  • Stealing
  • Public nuisance
  • Wilful damage by graffiti
  • Attempted robbery with violence while armed and in company
  • Breaches of bail
  • Unlawful entry of a vehicle for committing an indictable offense
  • Obstructing a police officer
  • Wilful damage of police property

Justice Davis also highlighted that Jason’s current alleged offenses occurred on 5 May 2024, while he was under multiple court orders including an eight-month probation, a six-month good behaviour bond, and a conditional release order from a four-month detention.

Allegations and Bail Conditions

The alleged offenses on 5 May 2024 included five counts of burglary, seven counts of attempted burglary, unlawful entry and use of a motor vehicle, and stealing petrol. Despite these serious allegations, Jason was granted bail under strict conditions. These conditions included:

  • Weekly reporting to authorities
  • A curfew
  • Living in Cunnamulla
  • Prohibition from entering Toowoomba except for court purposes

Justice Davis mentioned that he lacked a transcript of the Acting Magistrate’s reasons for granting bail. However, he emphasized the Youth Justice Act 1992 (Qld) which presumes in favour of granting bail to children unless there is an unacceptable risk to the community or individuals.

Legal Considerations and Final Decision

Justice Davis stated that denying bail to a 15-year-old Indigenous boy with some intellectual impairment is a severe measure and should be considered only as a last resort. He pointed out that the conditions set by the Acting Magistrate, including Jason’s relocation to his father’s supervision in Cunnamulla and the imposition of a curfew, were adequate to mitigate the risks.

He concluded that the presumption in favour of granting bail had not been rebutted and dismissed the police application to revoke Jason’s bail.

Juvenile Bail Laws in Queensland

The legal framework governing juvenile bail in Queensland is outlined in the Youth Justice Act 1992 and the Bail Act 1980. The primary principle is that detention of a child should be a last resort. The laws encourage the release of children on bail unless they pose an unacceptable risk of reoffending, failing to appear in court, or obstructing justice.

In assessing these risks, authorities consider factors such as the seriousness of the offense, the child’s criminal history, home environment, and available support systems. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, cultural considerations are also taken into account. Conditions such as curfews, non-association orders, or electronic monitoring can be imposed to ensure compliance with bail terms.

Initially, police have the authority to grant or refuse bail. Subsequent bail decisions can be reviewed by courts, which can impose additional conditions as needed. Breaching bail conditions is now a criminal offense for children. In cases involving serious offenses like murder or attempted murder, only higher courts, such as the Children’s Court of Queensland or the Supreme Court, can grant bail.

These laws aim to balance community safety with the need to minimize restrictions on the liberty of children before conviction, considering their unique circumstances and developmental needs.

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