Teen's crime spree causes $60 000 worth of damage

HE has a famous name but at just 14, Hervey Bay teenager Michael Jackson is gaining notoriety for all the wrong reasons.

With a four-page rap sheet accounting for a large chunk of the region's house and car break-ins, changes to the Youth Justice Act allow the Chronicle to identify Jackson for the first time.

The ruling was made in the Hervey Bay Magistrates Court this week when Jackson appeared on a whopping 31 charges, having been caught driving cars and stealing property when he was only 13.

The court heard Jackson had "planned" dozens of break-ins between Hervey Bay and Toowoomba that had incurred a "conservative" estimated damage bill of more than $60,000.

His offending peaked with the theft of a Ford Ranger which he drove and crashed on McLiver St, Pialba in early February.

Police applied to have Jackson's charges dealt with in open court on the grounds "people in this community are having their homes and cars broken into... and it's being done by this young man".

Jackson's lawyer Michael Riddell argued that having his client's name published would tarnish his family's reputation and could incite victims of his crimes to seek retribution.

Magistrate Tatnell said legislators would have considered those factors when they changed the Youth Justice Act so repeat offenders could be identified and address youth crime.

Looking at Jackson, Mr Tatnell said "have you had time to think about what you have done to people... do you care?"

Jackson nodded but when asked why he continued to commit offences, he replied "I don't know".

Mr Riddell said Jackson had lost his father, engaged in substance abuse "from a very young age" and had left school in Year 8.

He said Jackson's mother hoped to get him involved in sports to "suck up some of the energy he obviously has when he's committing these offences late at night".

Taking into account the four months Jackson had already served in detention, he was released on Wednesday and placed on a three month supervision order - the equivalent of adult parole.

Topics:  break and enters

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