By Alesha Capone
The father of an autistic teenager who was attacked on a Tarneit bus has called on the state government to “get tough on crime”.
Frank and Tess D’Abaco, the parents of the 17-year-old victim Jayden, spoke out last week.
On April 15, Jayden was on a bus travelling along Derrimut Road when a group of youths demanded his sneakers and phone.
The D’Abacos said two offenders kicked Jayden in the head, causing him concussion.
Mr D’Abaco said the family had been “devastated” by the event.
Soon after the alleged crime, police arrested and charged a 16-year-old Tarneit boy with attempted robbery and assault-related offences.
He was granted bail to appear in court at a later date.
Mr and Mrs D’Abaco said Victoria’s justice system needed an overhaul.
“The government needs to get tough on crime and the judiciary needs to take a long, hard look at itself,” Mr D’Abaco said.
The family said they support the state opposition’s election commitment for next year to introduce laws forcing judges to impose harsher minimum sentences on violent criminals.
Opposition Western MP Bernie Finn said youth offenders charged with multiple violent crimes should not be eligible for bail.
“Some youths who go before judges have committed four, five or more violent crimes and they still get bail – it’s just obscene,” he said.
Wyndham police Inspector Marty Allison said the issue of “disengaged” young people committing crime was a “community issue that requires a community solution”.
The chairman of South Sudanese Community Association of Victoria, Kot Monoah, said imprisoning youths for long periods could result in them becoming “career criminals”.
Mr Monoah said that while mandatory sentencing might work for a “limited minority” of youths, engaging them through employment, support to stay in school and sport was a better route to take.
“When you take a young person and lock them up for five or 10 years in their early teens, you can destroy their life,” he said.
Attorney-General Martin Pakula said the state government was developing legislation aimed at increasing sentences for more serious crimes.