Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Teen stabbed father after instruction to clean room

Photo / File
Photo / File

A teenager told to tidy his room snapped and stabbed his father with a 14cm kitchen knife, a court has heard.

The 15-year-old, claiming years of neglect and pent-up anger, snuck up on his dad and plunged the blade into his neck, nearly killing him.

But the boy's parents were both in the Youth Court at Christchurch yesterday to support him, pleading for a judge to let him back into the community to rehabilitate.

Judge Noel Walsh, however, said the public and his family needed to be protected, and sentenced the youngster to six months supervision with residence at a secure Christchurch youth justice centre.

"You came very close to causing a needless tragedy - namely, the death of your father," Judge Walsh said.

In a sad and harrowing case, the Youth Court heard of a dysfunctional African immigrant family where a clash of cultures between the father and his youngest son resulted in the horrifying May 14 attack.

At 5pm, the boy asked his father if he could watch TV.

But the dad ordered him to tidy his room and wash his clothes in the laundry.

Aggrieved, the boy went to the kitchen, removed the large knife, and approached his father, who was sitting on a couch.

From behind, he stabbed him in the right side of the neck.

Despite suffering a slashed windpipe, the father managed to remove the "embedded" blade before being rushed to Christchurch Hospital.

He spent four days in an induced coma in intensive care and six weeks off work recovering.

Youth advocate Tony Greig said the boy's family had emigrated from Africa when the boy was aged five.

He'd gone to eight schools in just nine years, which, coupled with his family issues, had seen him become a "confused and troubled" young man.

But Mr Greig said the boy had troubles at home too, where the family dynamics were "complex" and "dysfunctional".

"Everyone in the family has played a part in leading to where (the boy) is today," he said.

At the heart of the issue was a "clash of cultures", given his African parents, and upbringing in the western world.

The boy had a passion for rap music, which his parents "cannot abide and do not understand", but struggled at school given English was his second language, and had difficulties with dyslexia.

The boy's father did not want him jailed, but had said he would feel "unsafe" if the boy returned home.

Asked by Judge Walsh to confirm his position, the father said: "I don't feel it's probably going to help him. I think we need to provide as much therapeutic help as possible."

Mr Greig said it was part of African culture not to show emotion, but that did not mean the youngster was not deeply remorseful.

The boy wrote an apologetic letter to his father, telling him he was "sorry for what I did".

"I was angry over the years of neglect and felt I was being ignored and bullied. I should not have hurt you like that. I hope we can find a solution to our communication problems."

He added that he felt unappreciated in the family and was frustrated at how he'd been treated over the years.

The boy signed off by saying he hoped his father would one day watch him playing rugby and scoring a try.

Crown prosecutor Deirdre Elsmore doubted the extent of the boy's remorse and said there were issues of safety, not just for the boy's parents, but also for the wider community.

Judge Walsh, however, was satisfied the boy was remorseful.

He added that he was healthy, talented, gifted at sports, and "can write a pretty good letter".

"I believe you have a bright future," he told him.

After sentence and the boy was taken back into custody, the judge thanked the family for coming to court.

While the teen has a long way to go, Judge Walsh added: "I think he'll be all right."


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