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Connecting people & communities BERWICK

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Thursday, 11 May, 2017

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.com.au Thursday, 11

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■ Girlfriend choked until unconscious...

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Two teams of Narre Warren cheerleaders are in formation for their first international competition in Honolulu on 19 May. The 17 athletes from Royal All Stars Cheerleading Academy earned their invitation with other sides around the world after taking out state titles in Melbourne. For more on the story, turn to page 4. Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

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A 19-year-old man has been put on a community corrections order after pleading guilty to punching, strangling and hitting a school girl to the head with a hammer while she was trapped in his Hampton Park family’s backyard shed for hours. “This is as serious offending as you would get,” Dandenong magistrate Jack Vandersteen said during a sentencing hearing on 8 May. “This would have been an absolutely terrifying event for her.” Over 2 and 3 October, the man - enraged by a video found on her phone - choked his former girlfriend twice until she was unconscious, Dandenong Magistrates’ Court had heard. He struck her with a hammer three times, and held a sharp tool near her eye, telling her that he’d kill her. The accused later told police that he had got so angry that he had blacked out himself. He had choked her to scare her and stop her yelling, he allegedly told police. In a Youth Justice report, the man was said to lack maturity as well as insight into his crimes. He was a medium risk of re-offending, the court heard. The man’s lawyer told the court on 8 May that there had been a “clear shift” in the man’s insight in the past five months but there was “definitely a way to go”. The accused was being “honest” in saying he had difficulty empathising with what the victim was feeling, and not just telling Youth Justice “what they wanted to hear”.

Men of that age tended to be self-absorbed, the lawyer said. The man however recognised there was a “ripple effect” on the victim, their family and his family, the lawyer said. “There’s definitely a way to go in regards to insight. Some of that is related to age, some of that is his personality trait,” the lawyer said. “So it’s a work in progress.” The 17-year-old victim had last year stated to the court that the accused had taken everything from her; had made her feel worthless, unable to sleep and afraid to love again. The man has not breached a full and indefinite intervention order protecting her since the incidents. Magistrate Mr Vandersteen said it was significant that the young man had spent 50 days in pre-sentence adult custody after his arrest. He took into account the accused’s “exceptional” compliance with a five-month plus supervised Youth Justice bail program, including a night curfew with a ban on drugs and alcohol. In the man’s favour was support of a good family, lack of prior convictions and his guilty plea. The man’s two-year supervised community corrections order, with conviction, includes 150 hours of unpaid work and drug treatment, as well as drug testing, mental health treatment and judicial monitoring. Mr Vandersteen indicated that if not for the guilty plea, the man would have been sentenced to 18 months’ detention in a youth training facility.

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By Cam Lucadou-Wells

News - Berwick - 11th May 2017