TEEN HOLDS KNIFE TO KIDS? THROATS
By ALEX EASTON
A SEVEN-year-old girl has been threatened at knifepoint and her nine and 11-year-old friends had a knife held against their throats during a frightening jump in troubles at Coraki.
The incident follows a run of complaints about vandalism and theft in the small town, with residents reporting homes trashed and one, Reba Avery, early this month announcing she had been forced to build a 'cage' around her home.
News of the incident came as University of NSW Professor Tony Vinson released a report naming Coraki as one of Australia's poorest towns.
Coraki residents Kristy McWilliam and Peter Koshemakin said their children were threatened by a 13-year-old boy at the town's skate park on Friday afternoon.
Ms McWilliam said the boy told her seven-year-old daughter he would cut her, while Mr Koshemakin's nine-year-old son and 11year-old daughter had the knife pressed against their throats and were told they would be killed.
According to statements prepared by the children for police, the boy had also pressed the knife against his brother's throat, causing a small cut, and threatened to kill him.
In her statement to police, the 11-year-old wrote: "I tried to get away with (the 7-year-old) but (the teenager) crept up behind me and said: 'Ya dog, don't f.... move or I'll kill ya bro' and (he) put the knife up along my throat, but didn't stab me. ... It was so sharp, I felt the sharpness of it."
The teenager backed off only when Mr Koshemakin and his secretary, who had been alerted to the incident at his nearby business, arrived on the scene.
Mr Koshemakin and Ms McWilliam praised the police response, saying an officer arrived at the skate park within 10 minutes of being called.
It was unknown yesterday whether the teenager had been charged over the attack.
Mr Koshemakin and Ms McWilliam said they believed the 13year-old and his group of friends were responsible for a significant amount of the vandalism and trouble in the town, a claim backed by Coraki-based Richmond Valley councillor Norma Wise.
The group was described as 'untouchable' by residents, including Cr Wise, because of its members' ages.
Cr Wise said the problems faced by Coraki were no different, and smaller, than those faced in areas such as Goonellabah, but their impact was increased because the town was so small.
Cr Wise said she had been searching for solutions to youth problems in Coraki and was interested in developments such as the Aboriginal Circle Court, which brings offenders who plead guilty face-to-face with their victims.
Cr Wise said the age of criminal responsibility should be lowered from 10 and the Children's Court should be able to impose stronger sentences.