Taste of freedom for youth who planned attack

A little more freedom will be allowed to a teenager who once plotted a terrorist-style attack in Christchurch, as he works through his two-year supervision sentence.

The teen has been allowed some closely monitored outings so far, including playing his first game of golf, but his supervisors have asked for the condition to be relaxed further.

The teen, who has name suppression, is being regularly monitored by Christchurch District Court Judge Stephen O’Driscoll since his sentencing in February.

Fifteen people involved in his supervision, counselling, and life in supported accommodation in Christchurch have had a meeting about his progress.

They asked Judge O’Driscoll to change the wording of the supervision conditions at a judicial monitoring session today.

“It will enable us to test the waters and give him an opportunity to have some level of independence,” a supervisor explained to the judge. “That will obviously be very controlled.”

Judge O’Driscoll granted the change so that the teen can be away from his approved address as long as he has written approval and is accompanied by a person approved by his probation officer. He would have been accompanied by officials on all outings so far.

Judge O’Driscoll told him: “You are being given a bit more independence. There will be a greater emphasis on trusting you to do things properly.”

The session was told the teen now had 24 credits towards his level 1 NCEA, after gaining 12 more in recent weeks. He needs 80 credits to progress to level 2, but his tutor is talking about getting him started on some level two papers soon.

The teenager is also talking about having a barbecue this summer at the supported accommodation where he lives, and inviting the judge and Crown. Judge O’Driscoll said he would consider that invitation at the next judicial monitoring session on January 16 – but only if the teenager gets a good report on his progress.

In 2017, the youth was radicalised online and planned a terrorist attack in Christchurch “for Allah”. 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 and violent incident but “decided not to hurt anybody because he did not have the means to kill enough people”, the Crown said when he pleaded guilty.

Since he received his two-year supervision sentence in February, he has been living in supported accommodation, going to counselling at a mosque, and doing school work by correspondence.

Judge O’Driscoll was told today that the teenager had decided that he did not want to return to live with his mother over Christmas because he believed it would place him in a high risk situation. The judge said that decision showed “a degree of maturity”.