Five boys turn to crime: Why they did it

A TEENAGE boy in a detention centre is now viewed as "tough" by his peers, a Rockhampton court heard last week.

And from the information provided to Rockhampton District Court from a pre-sentence report, the Department of Youth Justice and the child's defence barrister, this new "place in society" is about as good as it has been for the 15-year-old.

He was one of five boys sentenced last week for three sets of offending including an armed robbery of a FoodWorks store, an invasion of an elderly man's home, and one boy breaking into a house and assaulting a person over 60.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show youth offenders made up 22 per cent (or 22,139 offenders) of the total offender population in Queensland in 2014-15.

Youth A, the 15-year-old "tough" offender, was one of two males who used knives to threaten two teenage girls working at FoodWorks.

He was also the only one of the five that did not have family support in court last week.

Reports provided to the court outlining issues linked to why the boys were offending included having peers who encouraged negative behaviour, lack of parental supervision or lack of regard for parents and other authorities, substance abuse and prior appearances in court.

Youth A had spent four months in and out of juvenile detention since being arrested for the armed robbery.

The court heard he re-offended quickly when released, resulting in his return to detention three more times before the District Court sentence.

Defence barrister Jordan Ahlstrand said Youth A's parents separated before he was born and his uncle ended up adopting him but he had spent his life in multiple financially stressed residences.

"The degree of parental supervision has been very poor," Mr Ahlstrand said.

He said as a result, Youth A had surrounded himself with peers, many who were well known to authorities.

"He lacks positive role models," he said.

"He was high on marijuana at the time of the offences."

Youth B was supported by his father in court.

"His (negative) behaviour escalated when he became associated with negative peers," Mr Ahlstrand said.

"He says he no longer associates with those peers."

The court heard Youth B had also attachment issues after living in various family members homes over the years.

Youth B was involved in the home invasion where he and an older offender broke into the house of an 86-year-old man.

He was then joined by Youth C in ransacking the house, taking alcohol, food, pool cues, socks, jewellery, and other items.

They had waited until the man went to sleep before breaking in. They cut the phone lines, a medical alert line, dumped the man's mobile phones in the toilet and slashed the bed twice while the man was laying in it.

Crown prosecutor Megan Jones said: "This has destroyed the sanctuary of the victim's home.

"He had lived there 20 years. He has now been moved out of the house and placed in a retirement village. He has lost any independence he once possessed," Ms Jones said.

The older offender, 22-year-old Kiana Catherine Jade Burke, was sentenced for her involvement last month.

The court heard youth B and Burke shared a bottle of vodka while discussing with Youth C the plan to break into the old man's home. Youth C had been sentenced last year for a home invasion at the same residence.

During Burke's sentence on March 21, the court heard her childhood was similar to Youth A. The now mother-of-three grew up in a dysfunctional environment, going "from pillar to post" through foster homes. She was subjected to child abuse and ended up binging on alcohol and marijuana.

Youth B also drove the getaway car involved in the FoodWorks armed robbery.

Youth D and his older brother were involved in the FoodWorks robberies along with Youth E, the youngest in the group, being 13 at the time of the robbery.

The boys were drinking on Australia Day 2017 when they decided to steal an unlocked car. They drove first to the South Rockhampton FoodWorks but found it too busy. They drove to the North Rockhampton FoodWorks where two boys pulled knives on two teenage cashiers and demanded cash.

Youth C also broke into a West Rockhampton home, stealing rings and coins before assaulting the 88-year-old female resident as he fled.

Defence barrister Ross Lo Monaco said Youth D told him he just went along with the others to the FoodWorks robbery and it was a "stupid thing to do".

He said he had represented Youth D in court previously.

"Within days of appearing in District Court, I noticed some CCTV footage showing on WIN TV," Mr Lo Monaco said. "It was obvious he was involved."

He said his client, whose girl-friend is about to give birth to their second child, was attempting to lead a crime-free life, signing up to do a Kokoda challenge, returning to school and obtaining his learner's licence.

He said his client had also cooperated with police and named of his co-offenders.

Each youth received sentences of detention, most with time already served, and probation orders between 18 months and two years. No convictions were recorded.

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