Teramasa Watanabe glassed by girl
A BYRON BAY girl who smashed an overseas student in the face with a bottle of mineral water in a violent attempt to steal his laptop computer will spend 18 months in a juvenile detention facility, despite being ‘really, really sorry’ and wanting his forgiveness.
The glassing of Japanese student Teramasa Watanabe left him with cuts above an eye requiring 15 stitches, and in fear about going out in Byron Bay and with serious doubts about living in Australia.
Mr Watanabe, in his victim impact statement before Lismore District Court Judge James Black, said he was here to learn English, but no longer felt safe.
“I wanted to live in Australia permanently, but after this now I feel unsure,” he wrote.
“I used to always be friendly to everyone, but now I cannot trust people. I am always checking for people and looking around to see who is there to feel safe. My friends have noticed a change in me.”
The 17-year-old girl, who turns 18 this week, was sentenced to serve her time in a juvenile facility after defence barrister Bruce Snelling pleaded that his contrite client be allowed to remain at the facility so she could continue her schooling and not be sent to an adult jail.
The teenager pleaded guilty to assaulting Mr Watanabe with the intention of robbing him at the Green Garage cafe and grocery store on June 14 after hitting him with a bottle of Pellegrino water after seeing the student sitting on a beanbag using his computer.
“I’d just love one of those laptops wouldn’t you,” she said to her two friends just before striking him with the bottle. She struggled with him for the laptop, but finally let go and ran off leaving Mr Watanabe bleeding. The girl was arrested by police trying to hitch hike out of Byron Bay.
“I just decided to hit him because I wanted his laptop,” she told police.
Mr Snelling said the weapon was not a weapon in its own right, like a meat cleaver, but a common glass bottle that became a weapon in the way it was used.
“The injury is more a reckless injury than a deliberate one,” he said.
“That injury is not uncommon on a rugby field when two heads come together.”
Mr Snelling said although her criminal record did not assist his client, who was on conditional liberty at the time of the assault, there was a good prospect of rehabilitation as she had shown remorse and had reflected deeply on the assault.
He said that in a report to the court she had stated, “I’m really, really sorry and I’d like his forgiveness.”
Mr Snelling said despite the ‘glitch’ the teenager had made very good progress in her schooling at the detention centre, had developed a love of learning and was making significant gains.
“She is going to school and has blossomed,” he said.
Judge Black said the reports indicted she was taking full advantage of education opportunities at the facility that should continue.
He sentenced her to serve three years at a juvenile centre, with a non-parole of 18 months, making her eligible for release in December next year.