Pressure continues to heap on the Queensland Premier to overhaul youth justice policies after it was revealed an allegedly stolen car involved in another fatal accident over the weekend had teen offenders on board.
Jennifer Board, 22, was riding her motorbike in Townsville on Friday evening when it’s believed she was hit by a car filled with alleged vigilantes taking the law into their own hands chasing a car taken by suspected juvenile offenders.
The tragic incident has left the community devastated and frustrated, blaming a supposed youth crime crisis for the loss of another innocent life.
Ms Board’s friend and police officer, Luke Matthews, shared a desperate plea for change in a Facebook post on Sunday about the death of his “loveliest” and “most innocent” friend.
“Myself and my fellow officers deal with these same offenders all the time, and the current youth justice process does not work,” the post said.
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“Stop letting these criminals out on bail. We need to start acknowledging that despite the fact they’re juveniles, their actions have very serious consequences, and if they they’re committing these very serious offences of the exact same nature, over and over again, why are they even being released?
“I hope you feel somewhat responsible for this death because this should have been prevented.”
Mr Matthews claims the Youth Justice Act is designed for children who have committed a first offence for a petty crime such as stealing a chocolate bar from a supermarket.
“It does not work for a criminal who has 20-plus counts of break and enter and unlawful use of a motor vehicle,” he wrote.
“Legislation needs to evolve to allow harsher punishments for the repeat offenders. These criminals have shown that despite our extreme efforts, they are refusing to comply with the legislation and clearly have no concern for it or human life.”
The officer’s comments follow a devastating spate of road accidents and fatalities supposedly related to youth crime.
The deaths of Kate Leadbetter, 31, and partner Matty Field, 37, reignited the fierce debate when the pregnant couple were struck and killed by a juvenile driving an alleged stolen Land Cruiser on Australia Day in Brisbane.
Ms Board was riding her motorcycle in Townsville on Friday when she was hit and killed by a Holden sedan that police said was chasing an alleged stolen car.
Police alleged the incident was related to vigilantism, which led to the two vehicles colliding and sending the Holden spinning out of control on to the wrong side of the road where it struck the 22-year-old’s motorbike.
It’s alleged the four people in the Hyundai then fled the scene and were later located nearby.
A 17-year-old girl was taken into custody over the weekend and charged with five counts of unlawful use of a motor vehicle. It’s believed the car had also been involved in the theft of petrol.
Vigilantes have become common in Townsville as the northern Queensland city grapples with a supposed youth crime epidemic, but Mr Matthews said those in pursuit of the stolen car were just as responsible for the death of Ms Board as the youths.
“Your actions are extremely dangerous and have now claimed the life of an innocent woman,” he said in his Facebook post.
“It doesn’t matter what your intent was, the fact that you have claimed an innocent life as a result of your vigilante actions undoes all the good you thought you were doing.
“Please stop chasing these cars, this death could have been prevented.”