AN EIGHT-year-old boy, who admitted to police he smashed nine glass panels at the Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre, is too young to be charged under the NSW Crimes Act.
The Boxing Day vandalism sparked outrage among the community after it was revealed two young indigenous boys were caught on CCTV outside the centre about 6pm when police said the incident, which caused $5000 damage, occurred.
A 12-year-old Goonellabah boy was spoken to on December 29 by officers, and police also spoke to an eight-year-old Goonellabah boy on January 2.
Police said the eight-year-old admitted to smashing the windows, stating that he was "bored".
The 12-year-old told police he was with the eight-year-old boy before and after he smashed the glass panels.
Richmond Local Area Command duty officer, Inspector Rob Cairnduff said due to the boy's age, no formal action can be taken, as, under the NSW Crimes Act, a person must be older than 10 to be charged with any criminal offence.
Insp Cairnduff said the eight-year-old was cautioned under the Young Offenders Act and his parents spoken to by police.
Professor of psychiatric epidemiology at the University of Canberra, Helen Berry said when incidents like this happen it tends to have quite a big shock factor within the community.
She said the shock factor tended to make the community blame the boy's parents for their son's actions without considering the implications the boy's family situation has on his life.
"From my research I know in situations like this you never ever know what is going on in someone else's life or family, which in some cases can lead some people to be involved in criminal behaviour or substance abuse."
- In NSW, criminal responsibility legally commences at the age of 10.
- To deal with offenders under 10 The Young Offenders Act was introduced in 1997 to establish procedures for dealing with children who commit certain offences through the use of youth justice conferences, cautions and warnings instead of court proceedings.