Editorial: Losing the innocence of youth

By Mark Story

Work in the newspaper industry long enough and you begin to think you've seen it all.

But occasionally something lands on the newsdesk to really curb the enthusiasm.

A statement released by police yesterday detailed three males had been arrested following a robbery of the now ironically named Sunshine Superette in Napier on Tuesday.

Such hold-ups aren't particularly uncommon - but the ages of the alleged offenders make for sobering reading.

Two of those arrested are aged 15, while their younger alleged accomplice is a sprightly 14.

Chances are, unless the offence is considered serious enough to push the case into the District Court jurisdiction, these three will be dealt with in the Youth Court.

For legal reason this means their names will never be publicly disclosed.

All three are jointly charged with aggravated robbery. A very "grown up" offence. One that carries a maximum penalty of 14 years' imprisonment.

The motivation? Cash of course, but for what? Drugs? A new iPod? Stuffed-crust pizza?

Regardless of what the funding was destined for, or whether the firearm allegedly used was real or not, what we should find unconscionable is that these youths considered this an option.

Our judicial system operates on the sacred basis of the presumption of innocence. Which of course should stay sacred.

The problem is, such cases tear at the fabric of this principle. And I don't mean in the judicial sense. I mean we all, once, presumed all children were innocent.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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