Case moved on safety grounds
By ADAM HICKS
A 17-YEAR-OLD Northern Rivers youth allegedly involved in a New Year's Eve gang rape was excused from appearing in Ballina Children's Court yesterday for safety reasons.
Police detectives sent a letter to Magistrate Chris Bone requesting the matter be moved to Lismore. Mr Bone said the security issue was for the safety of the accused.
The youth is facing one charge of aggravated sexual assault in the company of others against a 15-year-old girl near the Lake Ainsworth Caravan Park at Lennox Head.
The youth did not appear, but three women and a man connected to the youth were in the gallery when the case was brought before the magistrate.
One of the woman appealed to the Sheriff and to the youth's solicitor to have the media removed from the court room.
The woman continued to make protests about the media's presence.
Mr Bone informed the woman the media had a legal right to be present and to cover Children's Court matters.
However, Mr Bone said he would remind the court that names and identifying features of child offenders and victims of sexual abuse could be not revealed.
The case was adjourned to be handled by the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the Lismore Local Court on February 8.
The youth's bail conditions were also changed so that he would now report to the Lismore police station twice a week, instead of Ballina.