Family Group Conference works in ‘Turangi’ case

The 16 year old accused of horrific crimes to a 5 year old girl has pleaded guilty in court today.

Many were annoyed and sceptical of the process that was unfolding before our eyes as another family group conference was held to ‘sort the criminal activity out’.

Most roll their eyes when the mention of family group conferences with relation to criminal activity as it would appear in the media that there is a simple step from family group conference to ‘wet bus ticket’ justice, normally involving ‘community service’ i.e. painting a few fences at a local park.

I have to admit to being a little naive here on whether this scepticism is valid or not, is the ‘wet bus ticket’ result the norm…or the exception we hear about as it’s the one that makes the headline? Either way we can be sure that in this case the family group conference worked.


At the conference it was agreed not to ask for youth court jurisdiction, meaning the 16-year-old will be sentenced in district court.

The Judge said that youth court should not be dealing with this case due to the serious nature of the charges.

All who participated in the family group conference agreed that the youth should be sentenced as an adult.

One would assume that means the parents of the victim (or a representative), the offender and his family all agreed that this was a crime serious enough to be taken out of the Youth Court and the sentence was to be handed out by the District Court…and the Judge agreed.


Judge Jocelyn Munro said case had been moved to District Court level because of “the seriousness of the offending was such that no sentence in Youth Court could be adequate.”

The 16 year old himself seems to be taking some responsibility for these action, whilst obviously nothing can correct or justify his revolting crime, it is good to see someone taking come form of accountability with his responses of the past few weeks. He offered an apology in court, he told of how embarrassed he was of his actions and he has written a letter of apology to the parents of the victim.

None of this means he should be let off one iota when it comes to sentencing, but it is pleasing to see a ‘youth’ offender apparently taking the kind responsibility that we would like to see criminals take who are much older than he.