West Australian Magistrate Acquits 10-Year-Old In Police Car Ramming Case

A West Australian magistrate has acquitted a 10-year-old boy charged with attempting to ram a police vehicle with a stolen car.

The court has accused officers of acting improperly and failing to prove the boy understood the severity of his actions.

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Magistrate Michelle Ridley handed down her decision in the Kununurra Children’s Court on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

The 10-year-old had been accused of leading police on a dangerous chase in a stolen car through Kununurra’s streets, reaching speeds of up to 100 kilometres per hour.

While the boy was initially charged with more than 30 offences related to a crime spree, most of those charges were dropped at the beginning of his trial last month due to a lack of evidence.

Magistrate Ridley focused on the boy’s state of mind during the incident and his ability to comprehend the severity of his actions, as required by law for children aged 10 to 14.

The magistrate criticised the police for their “near enough is good enough” approach to the boy’s rights, specifically highlighting an interview where officers asked about the 10-year-old’s mental capacity before informing him of his legal rights. 

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She argued that such practices, if adopted for children aged 10 to 14, could have serious consequences and should not be admitted as evidence on public policy grounds.

“As defence counsel submitted, it is against public policy for police to be able to trick children into answering questions about capacity and then use it against them, contrary to their rights.”

“I do not accept the submission by the prosecutor that the fact the accused knows adults — police officers, lawyers, and magistrates … seriously meets the test,” Magistrate Ridley stated.

The boy, who was in state care at the time of the offences and not attending school, described stolen cars as “common entertainment” in his life. 

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