A Christchurch teenager who converted to Islam planned to ram a car into a group of people and then stab them until the police killed him, the Christchurch District Court was told at his sentencing.
The teen has now told a psychologist that when the violent incident began he “decided not to hurt anybody because he did not have the means to kill enough people”, Crown prosecutor Chris Lange told the court.
“The reason no-one was hurt was that he did not have access to knives,” Mr Lange said. But there was significant premeditation, and hostility towards non-Muslims.
The teen harboured thoughts for five months of killing multiple people, and expected to be killed by the police. He had written a goodbye note to his mother.
After his arrest, the youth told police he was angry and had “done it for Allah”.
The court has adopted a rehabilitative approach to the teen’s sentencing, with Judge Stephen O’Driscoll releasing him on intensive supervision with a list of conditions and a warning that if he breaches the conditions or reoffends, he will likely be sent to prison.
Among the conditions – which will apply for two years while the judge monitors his progress – is counselling by a member of the local Muslim community.
Judge O’Driscoll will get regular monitoring reports on his progress, the first one in a month’s time.
The youth’s name is suppressed and the details of the offending can also not be published. He has admitted eight charges. People were frightened by his actions, and damage was done, but no-one was hurt before he was held until the police arrived.
Mr Lange said that even though the youth had been treated for months by the youth forensic psychiatric team, he was still seen as a high risk of reoffending, and a risk to family members and members of the public.
He said the primary consideration was the protection of the community but also the teenager’s rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
Defence counsel Anselm Williams said the youth had accepted responsibility with his guilty pleas, and he had given explanations to the professionals who had spoken to him.
He urged that intensive supervision be imposed because prison would mean limited access to the rehabilitation and socialising programmes he needed. The strict conditions proposed for the intensive supervision were “almost unheard of”, he said.
He urged the suppression orders be made. “His rehabilitation would be affected by his name being published and him becoming in any way a celebrity of sorts, or someone of note,” he said.
Judge O’Driscoll said the teen’s rehabilitation would benefit the community in the long run, but he said it was one of the most difficult sentencings he had ever been involved in. “There is a need to deter you, denounce your conduct, and protect the community.”
He said the youth had left school at age 15, became socially isolated, and converted to Islam. “There was a disinterest in what is seen as the moderate point of view. You had thoughts which most people who live in a civilised society would find unacceptable.”
Pre-sentence reports indicated he had the potential to act more violently than what happened.
He was diagnosed as having post traumatic stress disorder and would need regular intensive community follow-up.
Judge O’Driscoll told the teenager the police had contacted a person from the local Muslim community to meet him regularly for counselling. “Everyone is really wanting to help and assist you, so you don’t engage in acts of violence and harm innocent members of the community.”
He released the youth under intensive supervision for two years, under GPS monitoring and living in supervised accommodation.
The conditions include assessment, counselling and treatment as directed by the probation officer or a psychologist. He will have to live at a particular address, and be monitored by the judge with regular reports.
He has interim name suppression but that would not be made a permanent order until he successfully completes the supervision sentence, Judge O’Driscoll told him.