'Vicious, cruel’: Girl, 13, sentenced for violent spree

A TEENAGE girl with a list of offences three pages long who threatened a convenience store worker with a knife and gang bashed a young woman at a shopping centre in a violent three-day crime spree has been released from detention.

So great were concerns for community safety over the Cairns girl, 13, the city's top judge made the shock ruling to overturn a magistrate's decision to grant her bail when she was charged in June.

The Cairns District Court heard in the space of a week she was among a group of five girls who brutally bashed a young woman outside DFO Shopping Centre at Westcourt, ripped a fire extinguisher from a wall at her school when asked if she was listening, and threatened a Night Owl worker with a knife after he confronted her for stealing chocolate.

 

The girl, who cannot be identified due to her age, has spent the past 116 days in Cleveland Youth Detention Centre, during which time she assaulted two guards after one threatened to "code" her for poor behaviour.

She pleaded guilty on Monday to robbery in company with violence, going armed as to cause fear, enter with intent, wilful damage and six counts of common assault.

"(The robbery) was appalling, vicious and cruel behaviour," Judge Tracy Fantin said. "You have to be held accountable and take responsibility."

Details of her disturbing criminal history were previously revealed in court, including her stabbing two people at the Cairns Central shopping centre branch of City Beach in December last year when she was just 12. She was sentenced over that in May to an intensive supervision order.

At the time of these latest incidents, she was also on probation after she punched two teachers at a Cape York school earlier this year for being asked to wash her hands amid COVID-19 concerns.

Defence barrister Melia Benn told the court the girl had just been diagnosed and medicated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and her family now had stable accommodation after previously residing at the infamous Three Sista's complex at Manunda.

She said her participation in the robbery was reluctant and driven by peer pressure, and she was remorseful, saying "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry" when read the woman's victim impact statement.

"She really craves that … acceptance and wanting to feel like she belonged," Ms Benn said.

Judge Fantin handed her six months detention with immediate release and a strict conditional release order.

"That (116 days) is a very long period of time (in detention) for someone who is only 13," she said.

Originally published as 'Appalling, vicious, cruel': Girl, 13, sentenced for violent crime spree


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