Mosque counselling begins for youth who planned attack

A youth who planned a terrorist-style attack last year is doing well on supervision a month after his sentencing and has made his first visit for counselling at a mosque.

Christchurch District Court Judge Stephen O’Driscoll received a report on his progress at a judicial monitoring session today, a month after the 18-year-old was sentenced.

A Community Probation official said the teen had begun his series of mosque visits yesterday as part of his supervision, and had also had his first session with a departmental psychologist. Both were still at the stage of “relationship building”.

Defence counsel Anselm Williams said the monitoring reports were positive. “I have met him several times, and spoken to him on the phone on other occasions. Everything seems to be going very, very well and I want that to continue, as would he.”

Mr Williams raised the question of whether judicial monitoring hearings could be reported, given the media presence in court, but Judge O’Driscoll said he would allow the reporting of the hearing in open court because of the interest in the case.

He remanded the youth for another monitoring session on April 17, which he has also ordered will be held in open court. The judge has the power to suppress details if he wishes, and large parts of this case are already covered by suppression orders.

Details of the offending cannot be published. The youth has interim name suppression but Judge O’Driscoll said at his sentencing that the order would not be made permanent until he successfully completed the two-year supervision sentence.

The youth converted to Islam and then planned to ram a car into a group of people and then stab them until the police killed him. He carried out a violent attack but later told a psychologist that he “decided not to hurt anybody because he did not have the means to kill enough people”.

At the time of the incident, he had written a goodbye note to his mother.

He spent months in custody with a suppression order preventing media reporting on the terrorism aspects of the case, but that order was lifted at his sentence, when a rehabilitative sentence was imposed.

He was sent to live in monitored and supported accommodation, on supervision that will ensure he attends counselling.

Judge O’Driscoll told him today: “The judicial monitoring report says you have been complying with your standard conditions and there are no concerns about that. You have been compliant with the special conditions that have been imposed and from the point of view of Community Corrections, they have no concerns about you.

“You have settled in well and are engaging with staff. I accept that you have probably not found it easy to adjust to your new environment.

“All the reports before me indicate everything’s going well. I encourage you to continue with that and make progress.”

There were no recommendations for any changes to the sentence, said the judge.

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