‘Child One’ behind bars: Who could, should have helped?

2455 Greg Borchers OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA


Our report about a 13-year-old boy accused of property damage – we called him Child One – who was remanded in custody by Judge Greg Borchers (pictured) sparked many reader comments, more than 50, that were in favour of the judge’s actions by a ratio of 10 to one.


Our previous reports appeared on Monday and on Wednesday. The issue quickly turned into a national controversy.


The majority of our readers, approving the judge’s actions, expressed utter dismay about the perceived impotence of authorities in their dealings with juvenile delinquents.


Many locals are feeling imprisoned in their own homes, fearful of going out at night in case their homes are broken into, or they themselves are assaulted. They complain about what they perceive as inadequacy of court sentences and orders, and suggest that in a situation of confinement the boy would receive the care and direction denied to him by his family and surroundings.


2455 statement of facts 2 OKA minority expressed strong disapproval of what they consider the judge’s harsh treatment, especially in view the death of the accused boy’s mother in January, allegedly at the hands of his father who has been charged with murder.


We are publishing on a separate page a police “Statement of Facts” about this alleged murder to shed some light on the situation which Child One was in prior to his offending. We have redacted names to protect the identity of Child One. We advise that this document, presented in open court, includes highly distressing material.


The Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service (CAALAS), which provided Child One with a lawyer, whose conduct of the case  several readers describe as inadequate, is now calling for the NT Attorney-General to “consider assessing Judge Greg Borchers’ suitability to remain on Youth Court following his inappropriate comments to a traumatised 13-year-old offender”.


This aside, there are several pressing questions: Given the horrendous events in the boy’s home in January, why did his family and government instrumentalities not come to his help immediately?


The boy came before the court in March after what the judge described as “rampages” and received several orders to which the boy agreed, but did not comply with.


He is alleged to have offended again, and came before Judge Borchers again this month when the judge made his now controversial comments and declined bail.


There are – at least – the following authorities which could and possibly, should have acted but evidence of effective intervention is scant: The authorities are the police, the Department of Territory Families, probation officers of the Department of Justice, and CAALAS’s own Youth Justice Advocacy Program.


The Alice Springs News Online emailed the NT Department of Justice on Thursday: “The bottom line issue seems to be that no-one ensured that the boy followed the orders from the court, made when he was before it in March.


“I understand ensuring compliance would have been the responsibility of parole officers in the correctional services department. What did these officers do? What were they obliged to do but did not do?”


The department replied initially it would “look into this but responsibility may be with Territory Families which is responsible for children in custody”.


We contacted the Department of Territory Families but have not received a reply so far.


The Department of Justice replied further at 4:10pm yesterday: “The role of a Probation and Parole Officer is to supervise and monitor an offender’s compliance with the Court order he has agreed to abide by, and report back to the Court if he fails to comply.


“Correctional Services does not comment on individual cases involving youth.”


Stand by for more.




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9 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Bev Emmott
    Posted July 3, 2017 at 4:59 pm

    The death of the boy’s mother is not an excuse to go around ruining property.
    Yes, the racial side of the question does not exist except in the minds of the minority.
    Experience taught me that to be too soft of 13 year olds after the death of a parent is detrimental to the mental health of the 13 year old and all who have dealings with them.
    About time these do gooders wake up to the fact that their own over sympathetic ideology is actually allowing these kids to become delinquent teens and adults.
    It does not matter what race, there has to be a respect for others to keep the community running well and for the safety of all concerned.

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  2. Hermann Weber
    Posted June 27, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Will it ever end? So sad.

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  3. Surprised!
    Posted June 26, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    Surprised! I am guessing Maya did mean what if …
    Unfortunately if I am correct, it’s actually a comment with racial undertones.
    For the record, I don’t care if he was white, black, yellow or green.
    My opinions would be exactly the same.
    Why do some keep perpetuating the racial side?
    It has nothing to do with race, it’s about breaking the laws and accountability for one’s actions.
    When people talk about or ask about colour, they are the ones promoting racism.

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  4. R Henry
    Posted June 26, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    I am led to believe from the court transcript that the 13 y/o turned 14 the day after the hearing. I fully support the Judge in his summary.
    If anyone should be making a complaint it should be the court relating to the slack representation of the defense.
    I grew up at a time after WW2 when very few people had much and the upperclass looked down on the working class but still we went to school in the hope that we could obtain enough education to allow us to get through life.
    If some one was lucky enough to get up a bit we were glad for them and did not feel compelled to thieve or trash their belongings.
    Most of us were working by this lad’s age.
    There were deaths in families and again these did not cause riotous behaviors.

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  5. Surprised!
    Posted June 26, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    @1 Maya, I am guessing you meant to say “Imagine, just imagine, if this boy had been white”.
    Is that correct?

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  6. James T Smerk
    Posted June 26, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    Maya: It appears some lives are more important than others.

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  7. Maya
    Posted June 26, 2017 at 8:45 am

    Imagine, just imagine, this boy had been white.

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  8. Surprised!
    Posted June 24, 2017 at 11:23 pm

    Well I guess the police did their bit, after all they caught the lad.
    I especially like the use of the word impotent in the article.
    Perhaps that could be used as a metaphor for the other agencies that should have been involved.
    We pay taxes for the government agencies to do their job and pay mores taxes when they don’t. Then the victims of the crimes pay yet again.
    It doesn’t make any sense to me but we keep voting in the pollies based on empty promises.
    As the song goes “when will they ever learn…”

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  9. Peter Dixon
    Posted June 24, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    These are the questions that need to be asked. These services, and the schools are woefully underesourced.

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