Judge worried about reduced places for youth in custody

Court House-Sept-2013-07A Youth Court judge has voiced his frustrations about making progress with the case of a teenager charged with the Woolston liquor robbery when the youth is being flown back to Palmerston North between court appearances in Christchurch.

He also expressed concern about the expense involved, with five full-price air fares having to be bought for every court appearance for the youth and his escorts.

Judge Stephen O’Driscoll suggested that Child, Youth, and Family could shift someone from the Te Puna Wai youth justice facility at Rolleston, to make space for the youth during the latest one-week remand.

He said the youth needed to be in Christchurch to have access to his youth advocate, Kristy O’Connor, who has just received details of the police case to discuss with the youth.

It will also mean he can be present for meetings with his family when decisions about the case can be discussed and finalised ahead of his next appearance on September 22.

Judge O’Driscoll said that he had no power or jurisdiction to tell CYF how to handle the matter, but he made his views clear as the youth made a remand appearance in Christchurch today.

The CYF official in court said: “We certainly, as a district, have the same frustrations that the court does. It provides a hurdle for us to do our work as well.”

Issues have arisen recently because of cutbacks in the number of beds available at Te Puna Wai.

Judge O’Driscoll suggested that an alternative might be for the youth could be flown back to Christchurch on Sunday, so that he could meet with his youth advocate and family on Monday, ahead of the Tuesday court appearance.

That may mean him being held in the police cells for two nights if no bed was available at Te Puna Wai.

Police disclosure was given to the two youth advocates yesterday, and both youths were today remanded in custody for another week for the evidence to be considered. One is already being held at the youth justice facility at Rolleston.

The youths, aged 15 and 16, face charges of aggravated robbery after an incident on August 29 when an attempt to take liquor from the Woolston liquor store led to bottles being smashed over the shop assistant’s head.



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