R v BG [2019] NZYC 319

Published 15 November 2019

Sentencing — aggravated robbery — unlawfully taking a motor vehicle— whether to transfer to District Court for sentence — supervision with residence — Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, ss 5, 208, 283, 284 & 289 — United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The young person, BG, had been found guilty of one charge each of aggravated robbery and unlawfully taking a motor vehicle. The main issue at this disposition hearing was whether BG would be subject to an order for supervision with residence (the highest level of response available within the Youth Court jurisdiction) or whether he should be transferred to the District Court for sentencing. BG had participated in a planned robbery of a dairy, where a lone worker was confronted by a group of people with weapons who threatened violence. The unlawfully taken motor vehicle was the getaway car. The victim was so traumatised that her family sold the business to get away from it. BG had a history of offending including a prior aggravated robbery and assault with intent to rob. The Judge considered sentencing principles, including the need to adopt the least restrictive outcome available in the circumstances. The underlying causes of the offending were also looked at. These included exposure to family violence, disruptive schooling, ADHD, early drug use, association with offending peers and that young people have brains that are not fully developed, which impacts their decision making. The social worker noted that BG had been moved between residences while in custody and this had disrupted his rehabilitation programmes. The social worker recommended BG be given a further chance to complete a supervision with residence order without disruption and gave details of programmes that would be available to BG. In comparison, there would be very little in the way of rehabilitation opportunities if BG were transferred to the District Court. After balancing sentencing principles and the circumstances of the case, the Judge determined the proper outcome was to retain BG in the Youth Court's jurisdiction and impose a sentence of six months' supervision with residence. At release a supervision order would be imposed. The Judge stated that care needed to be taken in providing a good environment for BG once he had completed his supervision with residence. The Judge observed that it is unkind to show young people a different way of life, provide comfort and three meals a day, nurture and teach them, only to return them to same environment with the same negative influences and offending peers. The Judge urged the adults in BG's life to put the work in while he was in residence, to ensure he was returned to a positive environment. Judgment Date: 26 March 2019. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *