Some ‘hiccups’ but progress for youth who planned attack

A few “hiccups” but overall the monthly report card is a Pass for the youth who once planned an ISIS-style terrorist attack in Christchurch.

The judge’s comments at a monitoring session at court hinted at occasional outbursts which staff have had to deal with at the supervised accommodation where the teenager has been staying.

The 18-year-old had his third monthly monitoring session with Christchurch District Court Judge Stephen O’Driscoll yesterday, after his sentencing in February.

Judge O’Driscoll has held the monitoring sessions in public because of public interest in the case where the youth carried out a violent incident. Media argued that the public needed reassurance that the teenager was making progress on his supervision sentence where he is living in supervised accommodation.

Last year, he 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”. He had been radicalised online and planned a terrorist attack “for Allah”.

The youth, whose name is suppressed, had written his own report for the judge yesterday. This month, he elected not to read out the report in court.

When he read an earlier report out in April, media covering the case heard him speak for the first time as he outlined his progress, his hopes, and his activities, including golf.

Judge O’Driscoll also had a report from Community Corrections which recommended no changes to the youth’s supervision and counselling arrangements. Crown prosecutor Mark Zarifeh and defence counsel Anselm Williams didn’t have anything more to add.

Judge O’Driscoll said the youth was now enrolled at Correspondence School to study social studies and NCEA level one Pathways. He asked to get regular updates on the credits the youth was receiving.

He was also attending the counselling sessions arranged, which include visits to a mosque. He was working through “thought-challenging skills”. Judge O’Driscoll said: “You say you are proud of yourself and have a better understanding now about accepting other people’s beliefs. That is different from how you felt earlier.”

The youth was also working on good sportsmanship. He did not like losing games and became frustrated at times.

“It seems things are going along reasonably well,” said the judge. “I see there has been the odd hiccup when you get frustrated, but staff are only there to help and assist you. They deserve to be shown and treated with respect.

“While progress has been made, there are some hiccups we need to iron out. This means keeping up the good work.”

Previous hearings have heard how the youth has been opening up more in sessions with a departmental psychologist and how he has been out under supervision to play his first round of golf.

Judge O’Driscoll adjourned the case to June 15 for another monitoring session, without any changes to the supervision arrangements.

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