Dylan Voller, photographed in restraints and a spit hood, was football-loving teenager

By Candace Sutton of news.com.au

WARNING: This story contains graphic content that may upset some readers

He was a football-loving teenager who ended up committing a 24-hour crime spree while high on ice, and now shocking photographs of him restrained and wearing a "spit hood" in juvenile detention have gone around the world.

For Dylan Voller, the Australian teenager whose mistreatment in a Northern Territory juvenile facility will now become part of a royal commission into indigenous youth custody, the trauma is not over.

A Northern Territory youth worker who knows and has cared for Voller in the past said the teen, who is now 19, "has been in and out of trouble, needs to get serious counselling and it needs to be funded by the government".

"It's no easy journey for Dylan," the youth worker said.

"If a boy commits a crime, I'm not saying they don't have to face the music, but where's the duty of care? They need a place where they can be safe."

Dylan's sister Kira said that her brother "deserves his life back" and had "lost everything".

Ms Voller said her brother had "lost hope".

"The last time I went to visit him there was no smile, there was no emotion, there was nothing, I couldn't give him anything to be positive about and that really broke me," Ms Voller said.

"I want him to know he's still a person and people still love him and he still has hope for a life.

"He's been in and out of jail from the age of 11, 10," Kira told ABC radio. "That's half of his whole life."

Just four years ago, Dylan Voller was photographed calmly sitting on the grass with his friend Leighton at a Saturday rugby grand final match in Alice Springs.

But the young teenager had a troubled past.

The youth worker told news.com.au that the then 14-year-old had "underlying trauma" and had been in trouble with the NT Police as a juvenile.

A youth justice advocacy project worker had reported that Voller had suffered "anger issues" and had a "propensity to spit".

Then on February 7, 2014, Voller got drunk and "high on ice" and with two other young men went on a 24-hour crime spree, attacking two men and a police officer.

Dylan Voller went on an ice-fuelled crime spree and ended up in the Don Dale Centre where he was shackled and placed in a hood. Photo / Supplied
Dylan Voller went on an ice-fuelled crime spree and ended up in the Don Dale Centre where he was shackled and placed in a hood. Photo / Supplied

It was during his incarceration following being found guilty for this series of incidents that Voller was placed in restraints and the spit hood in the now infamous Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Darwin.

ABC-TV's Four Corners showed images of Voller hooded and strapped into a mechanical restraint chair for almost two hours in March 2015, when he was serving a total of two years and three months' minimum sentence.

Still image of 17-year-old Dylan Voller, restrained and fitted with a spit hood inside the Youth Detention Centre in Alice Springs. Photo / ABC/Four Corners
Still image of 17-year-old Dylan Voller, restrained and fitted with a spit hood inside the Youth Detention Centre in Alice Springs. Photo / ABC/Four Corners

The report on Voller and other boys' disturbing detention has seen the first scalp claimed.

Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles this afternoon announced he had removed John Elferink as Corrections Minister, installing himself in the role.

Voller's spree began in Alice Spring's iconic Todd Street, where he and the two other young men tried to rob a man walking to work.

A court later heard that Voller, then a slightly built teen, ran bare-chested at the man, yelling "you fat white racist dog. You yelled at us".

The three teens took the man's wallet, knocked him to the pavement and kicked him in the ribs.

Still high on drugs the following day, the boys ambushed Luke McIntyre near a store where the 17-year-old was trying to buy cigarettes.

Voller struck him with a mop handle, punched him in the face and stole his wallet. McIntyre was bashed unconscious, then his three assailants fled in a Holden Commodore.

Voller was behind the wheel and tried to run down a "terrified" Constable Gerard Reardon who had ordered the trio to stop.

On August 13, 2014, Northern Territory Supreme Court Justice Peter Barr sentenced Voller to a maximum of three years and eight months for attempted robbery, aggravated robbery and recklessly endangering serious harm.

Voller, who was already in custody, had a 20 month non-parole period to serve. Justice Barr noted that the 16-year-old had a very troubled past, dating back to when he was an 11-year-old and had committed more than 50 offences, including crimes of violence, over five years.

Placed in custody in the Don Dale centre, Voller was regarded as a "notorious" juvenile prisoner.

The ABC reported that he was subjected to a "catalogue ... of abuse" in detention centres in Darwin and Alice Springs over the last five years.

Four Corners reported that on two occasions after he was found in his cell crying, guards grabbed Dylan Voller around the neck, stripped him naked and held him down.

CCTV footage obtained by the ABC show prison officers tear gassing male juvenile prisoners following a "riot" at Don Dale centre in August 2014.

Voller's sister Kira said she held the guards responsible for her brothers' behaviour, and she wanted to see the law permitting the use of mechanical restraints overturned.

"What I'd really like to see is ... for them to take accountability for the fact that they damaged him a lot more than helped," she said.

"These people are already full-grown adults and made the decision to harm that child while they were working," she said. "The government gave them that responsibility, to care for these kids, and instead they abused that role."

A Northern Territory youth worker told news.com.au that an alternative safe centre for juvenile offenders had been all but abandoned during successive NT governments due to pressure from child protection workers.

"I've seen kids who have been stabbed or contracted sexually transmitted diseases in custody," he said. "They need protection, not abuse."

- news.com.au

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