WA police did not ‘explicitly’ oppose bail during court appearance of teen following assault on Danny Hodgson

WA police did not ‘explicitly’ oppose bail during court appearance of teen following assault on Danny Hodgson
  • PublishedSeptember 16, 2023

WA Police have confirmed they did not “explicitly” oppose bail during the court appearance of the teenager who seriously injured soccer player Danny Hodgson in a separate incident, despite the state’s attorney-general saying they did oppose it.

In March 2022, the teenager was sentenced to three years and eight months in detention over the 2021 attack that left Mr Hodgson fighting for his life and with a severe traumatic brain injury.

At the time of the attack, the teen was on bail and had been charged with 23 offences relating to 13 separate incidents — that included violent assaults on other strangers — over the seven months prior to him striking Mr Hogdson.

The teen, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was released early on a supervision order in May.

He was then charged with robbery after allegedly assaulting a woman while trying to steal from a liquor store in Geraldton on August 29 this year, and appeared in the Geraldton Magistrates Court the following day.

Government claimed police opposed bail

Under questioning in parliament on Thursday, Premier Roger Cook said police had opposed bail.

“Ultimately, the courts decided to provide him with bail. The courts are independent,” he said.

“The judge made a call.”

Attorney-General John Quigley echoed the same comments to reporters.

John Quigley speaks to journalists outside the WA Parliament.
John Quigley claimed the court had “overruled” police in their objection to him being granted bail. ( ABC News: James Carmody)

“Police opposed bail but the court overruled the police and released him,” he said.

However, in a statement on Friday evening, a police spokesman said the accused was refused police bail, between being arrested and his court appearance, but bail was not opposed when he fronted court.

“During this appearance, the police prosecutor did not explicitly oppose bail,” he said.

The government said his supervision order was cancelled on Wednesday following a review by the parole board, and the teenager has since been arrested.

WA police badge
The government spokesperson said it was disappointing that police did not more explicitly oppose bail in court.(Adam Haynes: ABC)

In response to the comments from WA Police, a state government spokesperson said the premier and the attorney-general were initially advised police had opposed bail.

“We have confirmed that police bail was denied and have since been advised that the police did not support bailing the offender in court and listed the seriousness of the offences,” the statement from the government read.

“However, it is disappointing that police did not more explicitly oppose bail in court.

“The premier has asked the attorney-general to review the circumstances around these decisions and to report back on any changes that may be considered to stop a repeat of these issues.”

Review needs to be independent: Opposition

This week, the government announced the premier had asked the attorney-general to review the state’s parole system in the wake of recent incidents involving violent criminals who allegedly went on to reoffend.

This included Luke Noormets, who is believed to have murdered his former partner Georgia Lyall in her South Guildford home before taking his own life in Innalloo.

He had been released on parole 13 months earlier after being jailed for abducting and torturing another man by setting him on fire and beating him with weapons and his fists.

A man dressed in a black martial arts uniform
Luke Noormets is believed to have murdered his partner after he was released on parole. (Facebook)

Opposition Justice spokesman Tjorn Sibma said the decision was wise and overdue, but needed to be more thorough.

“I think the review needs to be far more comprehensive and independent because, with no personal disrespect intended, I do not trust the attorney-general by himself to undertake the kind of review that needs to be done,” he said.

“I think there are systemic issues at play here, resourcing issues at play here and ultimately policy issues at play here which requires an independent non-partisan assessment.”

A man in a grey suit stands in front of a bank of microphones.
Tjorn Sibma wants to see a comprehensive and independent review of the state’s parole system.(ABC News: James Carmody)

Mr Sibma said he was surprised bail was not opposed considering the teenager’s history of offending.

He said the real issue in this particular case was a serious repeat violent offender not serving the full length of their custodial sentence, and being released into the community under a supervision order that “doesn’t appear to [have been] adequately supervised at all”.

He said Mr Quigley needed to undertake more “diligence and professionalism” when making public comment on these kinds of issues.

“The public does at the very least expect the attorney general and the premier to have their facts straight and in this particular example, they clearly didn’t.”


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