A MILDURA teenager, described as the “ringleader” of a violent riot at Parkville Youth Detention Centre at the weekend, has been refused bail.
The “out of control” 16-year-old is awaiting sentence on a string of often ice-fuelled crimes in Mildura – including car thefts and burglaries – as well as his involvement in an earlier Parkville riot, when he allegedly threw pool tiles at prison staff, forcing them to seek refuge.
He was in custody after breaching his bail just hours after he was released to attend residential rehabilitation in December.
The accused teenager faced a children’s court to again apply for bail to attend the same rehabilitation centre, just days after his alleged involvement in the riot.
It comes as Minister for Youth Affairs Jenny Mikakos said the government was “working around the clock” to fortify the centre after the riot.
A court was yesterday told the teenager was expected to be charged after being captured on CCTV leading Saturday night’s riots, which caused about $50,000 damage.
The prosecutor told the court a list of police “too long to name” and a specialist unit was needed to contain the situation.
The court heard the riot started when a group of inmates, led by the accused, asked to use the pool and was denied.
The group then removed concrete gates around the pool and gained entry to the roof cavity, the court heard.
The accused led the teens to a group of 12 locked-down inmates, managing to release them, the court heard.
The prosecutor said the teenager was seen removing tiles from the pool and throwing them at staff, who had to lock themselves in a secure room for their safety, before inmates threw concrete at a prison van.
But the teenager’s defence counsel said the risk of him reoffending would be reduced if he was released from custody, but would escalate in the Parkville environment around other children.
She said the inmates had been locked in their cells for most of the day in the lead-up to the riots and Saturday was the first time they had been outside in three days.
The teenager’s counsel said the area the inmates were in was supposed to house 13 people but had 21 at the time.
In refusing the teenager bail, the magistrate said she could not reward his bad behaviour, having told him in December she would release him at his next appearance only if he could stay out of trouble.
The magistrate questioned whether the teenager was manipulating the system and how much taxpayer money would be spent on his specialist rehabilitation.
She said it was a “last resort” to refuse a child bail but she could not be confident rehabilitation staff would be safe if she released him.
The teenager will be back before the court in two weeks.
Ms Mikakos told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday there were “serious limitations” with the infrastructure of Parkville, but denied staff had lost control of the centre.
“That became apparent during the riot in November, where we had similarly young offenders who were able to access the roof cavity,” she said at a press conference about the riots.
“The infrastructure limitations have become very apparent to the young offenders and they are taking advantage of the situation.”
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