news

He should be at school. Instead, this 11-year-old WA boy is accused of murder.

While most of the country’s 11-year-olds spent yesterday meeting their new teachers and settling in for a new school year, one boy was familiarising himself with the inside of a cell – his new home for the foreseeable future.

Believed to be the youngest person ever charged with murder in Western Australia, the Indigenous boy (who cannot be named) appeared at Perth Children’s Court in the morning via video link from Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre – the state’s only children’s jail – with his father by his side.

It was around the same time his peers would have been enjoying recess.

He and three men are accused of murdering a 26-year-old man, who was stabbed to death in the early hours of January 27 outside the Esplanade train station.

As the boy fiddled with a piece of paper, his father displayed the tender touches only a parent can get away with, gently brushing a strand of hair from his son’s face and whispering to him behind his cupped hand, News Limited reports.

school empty post
The 11-year-old should have been starting a new school year this week. Image via iStock.

Described as small for his age, the 11-year-old was allegedly involved in the murder, described by police as a ‘running brawl’ through the streets of Perth at 3.30am the morning after Australia Day.

In court, he quietly responded to the judge’s questions with either “yep” or “yeah”.

Children’s Court president Denis Reynolds told the boy he would remain in custody if he was not granted bail at his bail hearing in a week’s time – a lifetime in the mind of a child.

ADVERTISEMENT

Outside court, Noongar elder Ben Taylor said he was disappointed at the poverty and dysfunction that saw young Aboriginal people disproportionately jailed and dying young, News Limited reports.

“I’m very saddened by this, a young 11-year-old boy roaming the streets at three in the morning,” he said.

“Something has got to be done. They’re talking in Canberra about Closing the Gap but as a 76-year-old elder, I’ve seen my people suffer. And it’s still going on. I’m tired of… seeing my people die so young … I’m forever following funerals.”

Today, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull released the annual Closing the Gap report, which showed efforts to raise the life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had made no progress, the ABC reports.

“The life expectancy gap is still around 10 years, an unacceptably wide gap, and this target is not on track,” Mr Turnbull told Parliament.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the Government should commit to a target for reducing Indigenous imprisonment rates.

Indigenous Australians make up only about three per cent of our national population, but 26 per cent of the country’s prison population.

The 11-year-old boy’s incarceration is only too fresh a reminder of those statistics, grossly skewed against him.

00:00 / ???