Monday, 30 March 2009

The boys raised their right arms, fingers pointing outward, as they left the dock via the door in the wood panelled wall to return to the cells. The magistrate stood, we stood, and the court cleared - through the swinging doors back into the waiting area. I chatted with The Daily Telegraph's reporter for a few minutes on the steps outside the building. A group of dark men pulled their sunglasses over their eyes as they marched past toward George Street.

The 15 year old boys will stay in jail for at least 18 months as they are due for release on parole in late spring next year. The salutes were a type of defiance in the face of a harsh justice system but they should have known it would end up like this when they took an axe and a machete into Trinity Catholic College a month ago and smashed the place up.

One of them, seated closest to me, sports a mullet and a short goatee. He was wearing a red T shirt, which contrasted with his dark skin and long eyelashes, high cheekbones and powerful nose. But regardless how grown-up the boys look they were treated like children, in a children's court and using children's justice.

Magistrate Gary Still read his decision to the court, where members of the boys' families sat on the side opposite the reporters, among whose number I sat. One boy among them wore a shell ankle bracelet and his right earlobe carried a stud.

Both boys are of Tongan descent, like the boys who had attacked Marrylands High School a year earlier. They were, apparently, happy that their attack had made the media. A copycat crime, it fetched its perpetrators a slightly stiffer sentence, possibly in consideration of the similarity. The major difference was that at Merrylands there was no axe.

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