Dylan Voller, the teenager who was pictured hooded and strapped to a restraint chair, sparking the royal commission into youth detention, has been granted early release from prison by the Northern Territory Supreme Court.
He will be released to the BushMob youth offender rehabilitation program in Alice Springs for four months on the grounds he had been treated badly in prison.
Justice Peter Barr said he accepted the evidence put by Voller’s barrister, David Dalton.
“The experienced team leader who prepared the pre-sentence report said if Mr Voller participated in BushMob he will gain life skills to reintegrate into the community. That coincides with my opinion,” Justice Barr said.
The court will decide in June if the rest of his sentence for recklessly endangering a police officer will be suspended.
Crown barrister Trevor Moses argued that Voller had a history of breaching the conditions of his release on supervision orders on two previous occasions, when he was aged 12 and 15.
Justice Barr said he had weighed up the threat to the community that Voller could reoffend with the fact that he would be held under strict supervision at BushMob, including electronic monitoring.
In his remarks, Justice Barr also noted a senior officer in Alice springs had expressed concern about Voller being bailed to BushMob, because it was not a locked down facility.
But he said the officer’s concerns had been addressed by the proposal that Voller would wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.
“Mr Moses raised the issue of the general safety of the community and I assess this as an entirely legitimate concern,” Justice Barr said.
“The grant of bail will give Dylan Voller the chance to prove his good behaviour.”
Wearing the bracelet is one of 17 bail conditions on Voller, which also include staying at the rehabilitation facility for four months, and not drinking any alcohol.
Justice Barr added the strong emphasis put on therapeutic assistance for post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions at the rehabilitation facility was suitable to Voller’s needs.
“Dylan Voller will have the support of a psychiatrist, psychologist and a GP [at BushMob],” he said.
Family relieved after legal battle
Outside court, Voller’s sister Kirra said she was overwhelmed and relieved by the judge’s decision.
“He’s away from the system that’s hurt him for so long now,” Ms Voller said.
“He’s got the chance to have the opportunity to be away from bullies and people who torment him and stand over him, so he’ll be able to stand with his head held high and live his life.”
Now 19, Voller was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison for aggravated robbery and assault in 2014, with a release date of October this year.
In December, Voller gave evidence to the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory about his time as a youth detainee.
He told the royal commission he thought he would die in detention, and recounted what it was like to be restrained to a chair and hooded for hours on end.
“The feeling of not being able to do anything; those officers could have done anything to me for that three-and-a-half hours and I wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it,” Voller said in evidence.
“Fear of them having control … there was no responsible person who would have said, ‘that’s enough, we need to get him out of that restraint chair now, he’s been in there for too long’.”