The flak has been flying over Jayden Breakwell’s sentence, the teenage fleeing driver, convicted of manslaughter after running red lights and killing Kenneth McCaul. Two years and eight months. And he was certainly no clean skin - in court just six months earlier, for burglary. Beyond the jail term debate, I’m staggered that his four feckless mates, have not been held to account. As you may have heard, a front-seat passenger recorded the pursuit on his phone, and his mates egged him on.
But none of them would fess up to who’s phone it was – nor would they unlock it for the police. They circled their wagons, like a pack. Why the police didn’t charge all of them with obstructing the course of justice, is beyond me. The Sensible Sentencing Trust has seized on this case, calling for the parents of such wayward youth to be hauled before court and held to account.
Dovetailing with this, did you see the story in the Herald about the father of two daughters killed on the Summit Road in Christchurch. They were hardcore participants in the boy racer scene, up on that road at an ungodly hour – one of their prime haunts. The father and his supporters are demanding ratepayers shell out millions installing guardrails along the Summit Road, slow-zoning the road, lacing it with judder bars and blocking off the road at night. I appreciate they are grieving. But all of these measures miss the point, which starts and ends with the reckless stupidity of lawless boyracers on late-night joyrides.
What next? Do they also want every traffic light intersection to be controlled by barrier arms, in case their joyriding reprobates think stopping for red is merely optional?
Making parents accountable for their reckless teengers does hold appeal. But many of these youth offenders have long left the family nest. Any attempts to intensively intervene and insist on parental control would need to happen a damn sight earlier, when the warning signs first appear, like truancy – and before the rot sets in.