Teen strikes plea bargain over bomb on bus
A SELF-COFESSED bomb-making teenager has admitted taking his explosive creations on a public bus - and struck a plea bargain to spare himself a maximum 18-year prison term.
The last-minute deal, brokered on the day a court was to decide if he would be tried as an adult, will also see the boy's rehabilitation prioritised over issues of punishment.
The boy, 16, whose identity is automatically and permanently suppressed, faced the Youth Court on Wednesday.
He was originally charged with endangering the lives of commuters travelling along a southern suburbs bus route in March this year.
Police alleged CCTV vision and witness statements proved he had explosives with him aboard the vehicle - they did not detonate and no one was hurt.
The boy was further charged with multiple counts of possessing, supplying and manufacturing explosives following a search of his home.
In April, counsel for the boy said their client would plead guilty to the explosive-making counts but deny he had put innocent lives at risk.
The case then stalled over plea bargain negotiations, prompting a magistrate to complain the youth was "languishing" in custody.
In July, prosecutors said they would seek to have the youth tried as an adult which, if resulting in a conviction, would have exposed him to a maximum 18-year prison term.
On Thursday, Steven Ey, for the boy, said the matter had resolved through negotiations and the count of endangering life had been "replaced".
His client then pleaded guilty to the manufacturing, supply and possession counts and one count of possessing an explosive device in a public place.
The maximum penalty for that offence is a prison term of 10 years.
Magistrate Luke Davis remanded the boy in custody to face the District Court in November, when a date will be set for sentencing submissions.
The plea means that, despite the severity of the offending, the boy will still be sentenced as a youth, not as an adult.
As a result, the court will be required to prioritise his "care, protection and rehabilitation" over and above considerations of punishment and community safety concerns.
It is understood changes to youth sentencing legislation, introduced by then Attorney-General John Rau SC in 2017, will not come to bear on the boy's case due to his guilty pleas.