Judge won't step down from Dylan Voller case against NT government

Previous judge recused herself from case taken by Voller and Jake Roper over treatment in juvenile detention centre

A Northern Territory judge has refused to step down from hearing a civil case brought by Dylan Voller and Jake Roper against the NT government.

Last week the previous judge, Justice Judith Kelly, recused herself from the case.

Voller and Roper are suing the NT government over their treatment while detained in Darwin’s Don Dale juvenile detention centre, including the notorious teargassing incident of August 2014.

The case, which has had a rocky start, went before the court on Friday to hear Justice Peter Barr rule on an application by the pair’s legal team for him to step down.

Barr was the judge in the appeal by a former guard who had been accused of assaulting then 13-year-old Voller. The guard was acquitted.

Barr was also the judge who sentenced Voller to more than three years in jail in 2014, and who granted Voller bail to a bush rehabilitation camp earlier this year.

Kelly, who recused herself from the case last Friday, had sat in judgment on a related civil claim by the four other detainees involved in the tear-gassing incident.

In that case Kelly awarded the four teenagers $53,000 in compensation for some claims, but found the tear-gassing itself – which occurred after Roper got out of his cell and caused extensive damage – to be reasonable and necessary.

Five of the six boys had been held in isolation for up to 17 days after earlier escaping from the centre. In handycam footage of the moments before guards sprayed the teargas, one was captured saying: “I’ll pulverise the little fucker.”

A separate class action has also been launched by other former detainees in the federal court.

Kelly had initially refused to recuse herself while Voller and Roper’s case was in what she described as a “shambolic state”.

“I’m not handing over this to anybody else until it is in order,” she said in August.

Kelly criticised the state of the plaintiffs’ case and an apparent lack of prepared evidence. Roper’s lawyers reportedly failed to get an affidavit from their client setting out his claims, because they could not find him.

Voller was the only former detainee to publicly give evidence at the royal commission into the protection and detention of children in the NT. A number of others gave evidence in camera.

The final report from the commission is scheduled for release on 17 November.


Helen Davidson

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Dylan Voller could be restrained in chair again, says Northern Territory's chief minister
Exclusive: In an interview with Guardian Australia, Adam Giles says Voller is now 18 and in an adult prison, where the chair is still permitted

Helen Davidson

02, Aug, 2016 @10:22 PM

Article image
Northern Territory royal commission: Turnbull urges speed but Labor backs 'full' inquiry
Human rights commissioner Gillian Triggs wants a broader commission into Australia’s detention regimes

Katharine Murphy, Ben Doherty and Paul Karp

26, Jul, 2016 @6:45 AM

Article image
Nigel Scullion should be stripped of portfolio, says Bill Shorten
Opposition leader says Indigenous affairs minister’s response to Don Dale abuse shows he was ‘either asleep at the wheel or he just doesn’t get it’

Helen Davidson in Darwin

04, Aug, 2016 @9:07 AM

Article image
Jury still out on whether Dylan Voller hooding furore can deliver real change
The royal commission on juvenile detention, launched after the abuse by guards of teenagers in the Northern Territory was shown on TV, appears to be making progress after a stuttering start. But will it be given enough time to finish the job?

Helen Davidson in Darwin

17, Dec, 2016 @12:17 AM

Article image
Northern Territory juvenile detention 'may amount to torture', says Unicef – as it happened
Chief minister takes over portfolio and PM announces royal commission after ABC airs footage of teenagers being teargassed, hooded and restrained for hours

Calla Wahlquist (earlier) and Elle Hunt (later)

26, Jul, 2016 @7:18 AM

Article image
Abuse of teenage prisoners in NT detention: how Four Corners got the story
The ABC team obtained the shocking footage through ‘a combination of good fortune and relentless sleuth work’ – and the compelling TV pictures finally forced the Australian government to act

Amanda Meade

26, Jul, 2016 @9:00 AM

Article image
Teenager in Four Corners juvenile detention exposé 'fears for his safety'
Exclusive: Dylan Voller, the boy shown in a spithood in the ABC report, was allegedly told by a prison guard ‘you bloody well deserve everything you got’

Calla Wahlquist

26, Jul, 2016 @9:39 AM

Article image
Activists gather at Don Dale detention centre to demand boys' release
Protesters call for release of boys featured in Four Corners report containing footage of alleged mistreatment of youths by corrections staff

Helen Davidson in Darwin

03, Aug, 2016 @2:13 PM

Article image
Former chief justice named as head of Northern Territory juvenile detention inquiry
Commission to report by 31 March on treatment of children in the youth detention system and whether its oversight was adequate

Gareth Hutchens , Paul Karp and Helen Davidson

28, Jul, 2016 @7:41 AM

Article image
Treatment of children at Don Dale prison could amount to torture, says UN
Special rapporteur Juan Mendez says public officials who covered up the acts at Darwin’s juvenile detention centre could also be guilty of torture

Calla Wahlquist

28, Jul, 2016 @3:17 AM