By Jane Bardon.
Aaron Hyde says he was stripped naked and forced to spend long periods in isolation in the Northern Territory’s Don Dale youth detention centre when he was just a teenager.
Now his mother Tracey wants to know why he was treated the way he was and whether that contributed to his descent into serious criminality and tragedy.
She is hoping to find those answers next week when the youth detention royal commission resumes in Darwin.
Ms Hyde wants the commission to consider whether the provision of more psychiatric and counselling services to young people with behaviour problems would have helped prevent her son and many others going on to commit more serious offences — and perhaps saved some lives.
Hyde himself is expected to give evidence to inquiry that his attempts to blow the whistle on the treatment of juveniles in the centre were ignored.
Ms Hyde said the first major warning sign about Hyde was when he started skipping school to go to the skate park near their home in Palmerston aged 14 in 2011.
“Going to the skate park on his scooter gave him goals and something to develop himself in. It was the downfall of everything as well.”
As a young child he was diagnosed with ADHD, which triggered bouts of anger.
When he was 14 he stopped taking the medication, and started taking drugs and committing petty crimes with his skate-park friends.
He started getting a series of sentences in Don Dale for crimes, including stealing cars.
Ms Hyde moved the family out of Palmerston, she got Hyde some drug and alcohol counselling; but she was frustrated she could not access more government-funded help.
“You’re floundering because there’s nothing out there to help you. That was pretty frightening,” she said.
“We basically pleaded with the judge to push him into an inpatient facility to deal with the alcohol and drugs, because we could see it, the behaviours were escalating, the crimes were escalating.”
He was not admitted.
Spiralling out of control
On release from Don Dale, Hyde developed a regular methamphetamine habit, and his life spiralled out of control.
In September last year after a series of armed robberies, aged 19, Hyde crashed a stolen car killing his best friend and injuring two other mates.
“Knowing that he’s going to have to live with that every day of his life, for the rest of his life. That was hard,” Ms Hyde said.
In June, aged 20, Hyde was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
On a family visit he opened up about what happened in youth detention.
“He was stripped naked, with four or five other Indigenous boys in Don Dale, and left locked up stripped naked with no bedding, no clothing, no bed, no nothing in the cells for a period of time, and I believe that was days,” she said.