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Judicial CP - September 1909

Corpun file 22870

The Star, Christchurch, 25 September 1909, p.8

Young Barbarians.

Gang of Ten Against a Boy.

Substantial Punishment Inflicted.

Click to enlarge

Ten boys, ranging in age from fourteen years and nine months to over thirteen years, filed before Mr W.R. Haselden, S.M., this morning, when a sitting of the Juvenile Court was held to answer to a charge of having created a breach of the peace in Colombo Street, Sydenham, on September 5. Eight of them pleaded guilty, and the other two not guilty.

Sub-Inspector M'Grath said that there seemed to be a tendency among a section of boys in Sydenham to form "pushes," and the ten boys before the Court were apparently one of these gangs. They appeared to have arranged give a boy of sixteen a thrashing, and on the evening of September 5, a Sunday, the whole band sallied forth to meet their victim on his return from church. They met him in Colombo Street, and gave him an unmerciful drubbing. Two young ladies who arrived on the scene went to the assistance of the lad, and succeeded in rescuing him from his tormentors, though they were somewhat roughly handled themselves. The gang did not disband then, but proceeded to maltreat other little boys whom they met.

Three of the boys gave their ages as seventeen, three as sixteen, three as fifteen and one as fourteen years and nine months, and in reply to the Magistrate's question why those boys who were over sixteen had not been taken before the Magistrate's Court the Sub-Inspector said that when juveniles and others were concerned in the same offence, it was usual to charge all the offenders before the Juvenile Court.

The victim of the assault said that he felt the effects of the punishment he received for a week afterwards. The two boys who had pleaded not guilty were with the others, but he could not say that they struck him.

Statements made by some of the accused boys were produced by Sergeant Reamer. From these it appeared that the reason for the action of the "push" was that they believed the boy had said that he would blacken the faces of the Sydenham larrikins with boot polish. One boy stated that seven of the gang took an active part in the infliction of the punishment.

The Magistrate said that what the case demanded was a whipping for all the boys, but he had not the power to order such punishment for those over sixteen, and it would be unfair to submit the younger boys to the indignity while the older ones escaped it. He gave the four boys under sixteen the option of taking six strokes of the birch rod or paying a fine of 20s, and two of the boys elected to take the whipping.

The Magistrate said that such conduct on the part of the boys was most serious, and he was determined to put a stop to it. For the sake of good order it was impossible for him to let them off lightly. The two boys who had been manly enough to take a birching would receive the minimum number of strokes, four. He thought this punishment would be a sufficient deterrent to them and to other boys, and if it was not he could order up to twelve strokes. All the other boys would be convicted and fined 20s each, the fines to be paid at the rate of 5s per week. If they were not paid the defaulters would be committed to solitary confinement for seven days.

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