News

Bomb hoax teens are given break

By Riverine Herald

TWO teenage girls charged over a bomb hoax at Echuca McDonald’s last year will likely avoid a criminal record.

The Echuca sisters, aged 14 and 15, appeared in a Children’s Court on Tuesday charged with intending a bomb hoax — place article/substance, bomb hoax — make statement/convey information and making false reports to police.

The court heard the girls had taken part in group conferencing which aims to help young people avoid further or more serious offending by identifying ways of restoring the harm associated with the offending behaviour.

At the end of the conference, an outcome plan was prepared setting out agreements that were made, including a consideration for diversion, which provides first-time offenders the chance to avoid a criminal record.

Magistrate Michael King said the report showed the girls, who had suffered a tragic loss in their lives, had engaged well and had the potential to make a good impact on the community.

‘‘It seems now you appreciate the seriousness of your actions and the efforts of all involved,’’ he said.

‘‘You caused a lot of hassle and worry and wasted police resources, all of which is very serious. But it was out of character as you are otherwise admirable young women who have great potential.’’

Dr King adjourned the matter to October 16 to allow police prosecutions to consider the matter for diversion.

Victoria Police’s bomb squad was called up from Melbourne on September 26, 2017, after the discovery of the suspicious package, which had allegedly been rigged to look like a bomb, in a toilet cubicle.

The fast food restaurant was evacuated and cordoned off for several hours while a robot investigated the package, which contained a timing device and a suspicious but non-explosive white powder.

Echuca detectives arrested the pair on September 29 over manufacturing and depositing a fake explosive device, as well as making a series of false reports to Echuca police in the days leading up to the event.