Alleged killers say they’re too young for responsibility
At least two teenagers accused of the gang killing of 15-year-old Solomone Taufeulungaki are expected to argue they were too young to understand what they were doing was wrong.
The two 13-year-old boys were among 11 people - nine of whom were children - who last week were charged with murder over the brutal attack on the much-loved schoolboy, known as Solo, in Deer Park on June 16.
As the pair made a bid for bail in the Supreme Court on Wednesday much emphasis was put on their young age.
Justice Paul Coghlan said the youth had the doli incapax rule - which applies to children aged 10 to 14 who are not sufficiently developed to appreciate the difference between right and wrong - "in their favour".
Under the rule, the prosecution will have to prove beyond reasonable doubt the child's development is such that he or she knew that it was morally wrong to engage in the conduct.
The court heard one of the teens was captured on CCTV footage running after Solomone with a glass bottle.
The other boy was on three counts of bail for other offending at the time.
Police will allege there had been growing tensions between two youth groups in the western suburbs in the lead up to the melee, in which some armed themselves with baseball bats and knives.
"There is gang activity at the heart of this which is very concerning," Justice Coghlan said.
Three other co-accused - two aged 14 and another 15 - also joined in the bail application.
The court heard one of the 14-year-olds is the older brother of one of the 13-year-olds and that "peer pressure" may have been involved.
In June, all five teen accused were charged with affray and violent disorder offences over the fatal attack and freed on bail by a children's court magistrate.
But they were taken back into custody last week after the homicide squad upgraded their charges to murder.
Prosecutor Mark Gibson has opposed their release on bail again, saying there had been multiple breaches from each of the accused since their earlier release in June.
He said the two brothers accused were caught out meeting with others, including a witness in the case, on October 10.
Another co-accused had breached curfew four times, he said.
But Justice Coghlan said the breaches paled in comparison to the improvements in their engagement in school and home life while on bail, describing it as "quite remarkable" they had stayed out of trouble for four months.
The experienced judge reserved his decision to next week, but indicated his initial thoughts would be to grant bail on strict conditions.
He said the delay due to COVID-19 on the justice system could see them not face a trial until 2022.
"For the life of a 13-year-old to be put on hold in detention for two years is a very significant thing," he said.
Originally published as Alleged killers, 13, say they're too young for responsibility