Teen who planned attack making progress in prison

A 19-year-old who once planned a terrorist-style attack in Christchurch remains in custody after a series of intensive supervision breaches, but he has earned more NCEA credits and got his learner’s licence.

The teenager will stay in custody for another four weeks, after all the agencies involved in his case held a meeting to decide how to proceed.

Christchurch District Court Judge Stephen O’Driscoll will then be given a proposal from the agencies, and asked to approve the next steps.

According to defence counsel Anselm Williams, the plan is likely to suggest a return to supervised accommodation where he has been living since his sentencing in February 2018, and one-on-one psychological counselling.

“That’s the most appropriate approach here,” said Mr Williams.

The teenager will remain at the Youth Wing of Christchurch Prison, where he told Judge O’Driscoll he had gained more credits towards literacy and numeracy qualifications for his NCEA.

He passed the theory test for his learner’s driving licence, scoring 34 right answers out of 35 questions. Judge O’Driscoll noted that he would not be able to use the licence for a while.

Mr Williams asked that charges relating to the series of breaches, which the teenager has admitted, carry on to the next judicial monitoring date which has been set for September 16.

The breaches include keeping cellphones, against the rules of his supervision, to watch pornography, and leaving the accommodation to go to a nearby Burger King where he withdrew money intending to get a taxi to see his mother. Issues had also arisen with his behaviour at the accommodation.

The teenager’s name is suppressed, and also the name of the accommodation. He is forbidden to have access to the internet because he was originally radicalised online.

Since beginning his intensive supervision sentence and counselling, he has said he has renounced extremism and people had nothing to fear from him.

The youth was arrested two years ago after a violent incident in Christchurch. He has been monitored by Judge O’Driscoll since February 2018 when he admitted planning to carry out the attack on a group of people in public, after converting to Islam and being radicalised online.

He originally planned to ram a car into a group of people and then stab them until the police killed him. He wrote a goodbye letter to his mother and then carried out a violent attack in 2017, making threats and causing damage. But he later told a psychologist that he “decided not to hurt anybody because he did not have the means to kill enough people”.

He admitted charges of wilful damage, shoplifting, threatening to kill or cause grievous bodily harm, and possession of an offensive weapon.