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NO ANGEL: Childhood marred by abuse, violence and family neglect

Dylan Voller in the harm restraint chair.

Dylan Voller had more than 50 criminal offences to his name when he sat in a dock two years ago and was told by a judge “your counsel informed the court you spit at people when you get upset with them’’.

The image of the 18-year-old confined in a “spit hood” and tied to a prison chair has gained world attention this week but it was the end point of anger management issues which first surfaced when Voller was a child.

His bad behaviour emerged during a childhood marred, according to the Northern Territory Department of Children and Families, by intergenerational abuse combined with “family transience, neglect, family violence, physical abuse, parental mental health issues and parental substance abuse’’.

Sister Kirra Voller yesterday said her brother’s behaviour had been reasonably well controlled when he was a student at a Lutheran school in Adelaide but the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder sufferer deteriorated after the family moved to Alice Springs when he was eight.

Government workers provided respite care but Dylan was lavished with weekends spent in hotels, at bowling alleys and at movie theatres. Her brother was being rewarded for his bad behaviour, Ms Voller says.

GRAPHIC — Life of crime

“He was never a dumb kid, he knew the carers didn’t care and knew they’d give him all this free stuff for being naughty,” she says.

His relationship with his mother deteriorated and Voller was placed under the guardianship of the state when he was 11, but Ms Voller says he would escape curfew in residential care houses, do the wrong thing with friends and then go back to his mother, where police would look for him.

“Mum’s broken because everyone has said she failed and all she’s done is try,’’ Ms Voller says.

Her brother was ­offered counselling each time he came out, but she said he dealt with his problems, including his early years of abuse, by going out and trying to get his hands on ­alcohol and later drugs.

His criminal career began at 11. By 16 he had graduated to terrifying attacks, the worst of which was attempting to run down a policeman in Alice Springs who feared he would be “killed or paralysed for life” and who suffered “unpleasant intrusive thoughts and even violent dreams”.

When police arrested Voller, who was high on methamphetamines at the time of the offence on February 8, 2014, he abused them.

The officer has since moved to Darwin. Some of Voller’s victims have considered leaving Alice Springs out of fear of him and other violent teenagers roaming the streets late at night. Earlier on the night the officer was targeted, Voller was in a car with two others when they picked a random victim walking along Todd St.

“You took off your shirt and ran with your co-offenders towards the victim,” Justice Peter Barr told Voller at his sentencing hearing two years ago.

“When you got to the victim, you confronted the victim and yelled out at him, and I quote, ‘You fat, white racist dog, you fat prick, you yelled out at us.’ The victim ­replied, ‘I didn’t say anything’.

“You and your co-offenders then surrounded the victim on the footpath near Rocky’s Pizza and backed him into the building, The victim feared for his wellbeing.

“You then called out to the victim, ‘I’m going to smash you, you f. king dog! The victim replied, ‘What for? I haven’t done anything to you. I’m just wanting to walk’.’’

Voller then demanded his wallet while his co-accused punched the victim and while he lay in pain on the footpath Voller and the ­others kicked him in the ribs.

Ms Voller says her brother has lived a tough life and struggled to overcome horrific abuse suffered in the first two years of his life and the family battled to find people who could adequately deal with his ADHD or try and help him improve his behaviour.

“He has always had behaviour issues, (which) probably started when people didn’t know how to deal with his ADHD,” Ms Voller says.

He often failed to attend school, when at school he had “a history of inappropriate, aggressive and disruptive behaviour”, ­according to court documents.

He would refuse to take his ADHD medication and his mother, Joanne, would sometimes crush up the tablets and put them in his drink before calling the school to tell them he was OK to attend that day, only for Voller to get upset with her and accuse her of tricking him. Joanne Voller was regularly called to pick him up and take him home.

Voller was the subject of a care and protection order, issued by a magistrate, from November 2009 until 2013.

He needed a father figure, his sister says, someone who could give him guidance other than the revolving door of paid carers who could not prevent him from leaving residential care at night.

Many shop owners and residents in Alice Springs all said ­Voller was no angel, and he had been known on the streets as ­aggressive and verbally abusive.

Well-known Alice Springs councillor Steve Brown says youths should not be locked up, but they should be held accountable for their crimes. “I’m appalled by (the assaults) but I also understand that some of these kids are vile and they’re in there for a very good reason,” Mr Brown says.

“You can’t have these centres destroying people’s lives either, they should be put in a facility like a Bush Mob, where they given ­direction.”

When not in juvenile detention — where his court records show he spent at least three periods of up to nine months between 2011 and 2014 — Kirra Voller said her brother was regularly on the streets roaming in small gangs, often with youths he befriended while inside.

A youth advocacy group asked to provide a report to the Supreme Court two years ago said Voller was “not capable of monitoring” his ­own behaviour which had, at times, “spiralled out of control while in detention’’.

The report referred to anger management problems and a “propensity to spitting.”

Before finally sending him to detention, where his case would become one of the drivers for the royal commission called this week, Justice Barr told Voller his type of criminal offending had made Alice Springs residents fearful.

“That kind of crime is disturbing. It unsettles the community,’’ Justice Barr said. “It makes the residents of Alice Springs afraid to leave their homes at night. They do not feel free to enjoy the amenities of their town. Community morale and community spirit are at risk. The affected residents are left wondering if they should look elsewhere for a safer place to live.”

Original article here


Northern Territory government counter-suing Don Dale youths

The Northern Territory government says two boys from Darwin’s Don Dale juvenile detention centre caused $89,000 damage in an escape attempt.
  • AAP
  • 12:50PM July 29, 2016

The Northern Territory government is counter-suing two boys who appeared in footage shown on an ABC program about abuse at Darwin’s Don Dale juvenile detention centre.

The ABC says the CLP government is suing two former inmates for $160,000 worth of damage after they escaped from juvenile detention in June last year, allegedly stole a car and then rammed it back through the front roller door of the centre.

The pair were part of the group of six boys being held in the behaviour management unit at the Don Dale facility who were tear-gassed when another boy managed to get out of his cell. The footage was shown on the Four Corners program on Monday night.

Darwin lawyer Peter O’Brien earlier this week announced he would sue the NT government on behalf of Dylan Voller, now 18, and a 16-year-old boy.

Guards were show stripping, tear gassing, hog-tying and assaulting Mr Voller.

The other boy was also tear gassed.

However, the ABC says the boys in this case, whose names have been suppressed by the NT Supreme Court, filed papers in June seeking damages for alleged mistreatment by Don Dale staff.

In its response, filed on July 4, the government is seeking damages with interest and legal costs following the boys’ May 31, 2015 escape attempt.

The government says the pair caused $89,000 in damage during their escape, and caused another $74,025.60 in damage when they rammed the prison roller door upon their return two days later. AAP

Original article here


About steveblizard

Steve Blizard commenced his financial planning career in 1988 from a background of life insurance broking, a field in which he still works. He is a member of the Financial Planning Association and the Responsible Investment Association. His experience ranges from administration of Superannuation to advice regarding insurance, retirement, remuneration and investment planning. Steve is an accredited Remuneration Consultant, specialising in salary packaging. He is a columnist for the Swan Magazine and the WA Business News


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