Supervised golf for youth who planned terrorist attack

Life is feeling more positive – and golf is providing an outlet – for a teenager who once planned to commit a terrorist style attack in Christchurch.

The youth spoke for the first time during his hearings when he addressed the judge at the Christchurch District Court today, where he had come along for a judicial monitoring session.

Last year, the youth planned to ram a car into a group of people and then stab them until the police killed him. He went through with a threatening a violent incident but “decided not to hurt anybody because he did not have the means to kill enough people”.

Nine months ago he had been radicalised online and planned a terrorist attack “for Allah”.

Today, Judge Stephen O’Driscoll was asking him about his handicap after hearing that he had been allowed to try the sport under his two-year supervision sentence since his sentencing on weapon, threats, and damage charges in February.

Judges can choose to monitor people doing sentences and get regular reports. Community Corrections is supervising the teenager while he lives in supported accommodation.

Today, the 18-year old, who has name suppression, asked if he could read a statement he had written for the judge. Permission was granted and he then stood and began reading, hesitantly at first but growing in confidence. He said:

“To Judge O’Driscoll: Thank you for allowing me to continue my community based sentence. Since I have seen you last there have been many positive changes in my behaviour, actions, and problem solving. I have been getting positive feedback from staff.

“Positive goals I have been working on include correspondence, life skills, history courses, and counselling. I have been attending all my counselling sessions.

“I am participating in household activities. My favourite activity is golf. I am completing household chores. I have also been doing my chores without staff having to ask me to do them.

“I have been attending visits at the mosque and have been discussing religious viewpoints. I have been working on strategies to help me deal with the problems I face in life. When I am anxious, I discuss how I am feeling with staff and get support. I am also learning to respect other people and their opinions.

“My future goal is to become more independent and to be back with my mum and to complete my sentence.

“Things I find hard at times are boredom, cooking, meal plan groups, and dealing with other residents.

I feel much better in myself and feel more positive about life in general.

“I still have things to work on but I am getting there slowly with the help of the [residence – suppressed]

Community Corrections told the judge they were very pleased with his progress.

Judge O’Driscoll said they had had a special monitoring meeting on March 28.

He said, “I am very pleased with what I have read in the reports that have been provided to me saying you are making progress and there has been a marked improvement in your attitude and your general outlook on life. The report says you are contributing in a positive manner.”

The youth had now been to a fourth treatment session with a departmental psychologist, who reported he is now more open and engaged. No variations in his conditions of supervision were suggested.

“I know it would not have been easy for you to have written this and what you have said to me,” said Judge O’Driscoll. “You have been very honest and open with what you have said and I have been very pleased with the progress that’s been made. It is the first time I have heard you speak.”

He remanded the case for another monitoring session on May 15.

He said, “I would like you to be able to talk to me again about what has happened in those four weeks. Hopefully you would tell me about progress you have made.”

The youth seemed confused when Judge O’Driscoll asked him about his handicap, while defence counsel Anselm Williams tried to explain it to him.

The youth replied, “Yeah, I hit it far.”

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