'Atrocious' behaviour of teen joy riders exposed
A FOURTEEN year old boy from Sydney was allegedly behind the wheel of stolen black Mercedes which tore through Byron Bay on Wednesday, putting lives at risk.
The 14-year-old and his four mates, aged between 15 and 18, faced Lismore Children's Court yesterday over the high-speed pursuit and other crimes.
At least one, aged 17, has been refused bail.
Police allege that some of the youths were involved in a break-in in Wentworthville in Sydney earlier in the week where the black Mercedes was stolen and a subsequent robbery at Harris Park. They then allegedly fled to Ballina in the luxury car.
In a bail hearing in Lismore Local Court yesterday, a police prosecutor argued all five should be refused bail and flagged further charges to come.
Sergeant Brett Gradisnik labelled the alleged behaviour "atrocious" and said it was fortunate that plainclothes police spotted the stolen car in Hayman St, West Ballina on Wednesday morning.
Police arrested two of the boys there, but the remaining three got into the stolen Mercedes and sped off.
The pursuit continued through Ross Lane near Lennox Head, where road spikes were deployed but the chase was called off over safety concerns.
The stolen car was spotted again in Byron Bay around 10.45am, with social media lighting up with witness accounts of the dramatic scene.
At the height of the drama, police were advising residents to stay indoors as helicopters hovered overhead and police dogs and their handlers roamed bushland around Paterson St.
The car was ditched on Paterson St where the trio were believed to have fled into nearby bushland and evaded police detection despite the use of dogs and a helicopter.
The three were eventually arrested back in Ballina about 2.30pm at a residence in Treelands Crescent behind Ballina Central.
The 17-year-old, facing one count of being carried in conveyance in a stolen vehicle, appeared via video link from Acmena Juvenile Justice Centre in prison greens.
The 17-year-old had a "very lengthy set of antecedents" and including several breaches of bail.
Magistrate David Heilpern noted he was on six good behaviour bonds, and had an "appalling prior record", used cannabis daily, had refused counselling and any other referrals, hasn't attended school for two years, and continued to "hang out with peers who are likely to engage him in offending conduct".
Magistrate Heilpern refused bail and adjourned the matter to Ballina Children's Court for mention on October 15.
Sgt Gradisnik said he would be opposing bail for all five of the boys, saying it was a "no brainer" that they were "willing participants in coming to this area in a stolen vehicle".
"It seems to be more likely than not that further charges are likely," he said.