By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
At least 20 cars have been damaged while a six-year-old girl has narrowly escaped injury after youths spent over an hour launching rocks in Darwin last week.
The Katherine Times reports that on 28 June 2020, from 7:25pm to 8:33pm, a group of youths pelted rocks at cars along the Stuart Highway, Woolner Road and Tiger Brennan Drive.
Northern Territory Police believe five people were involved in the rock-throwing incident, with Watch Commander Superintendent Antony Deutrom chasing two of the youths into bushland around 9:15pm, nevertheless unable to seize them.
Three Darwin units also attended the scene, however were unable to locate the offenders, while some occupants of the damaged vehicles were forced to hunt the youths themselves, racing as far as the mangroves along Tiger Brennan Drive.
Fortunately, no one was hurt in the incident.
Car Struck Just Below Car Window Where Six-Year-Old Girl Was Resting her Head
Trapped in the rock-throwing incident, Toby George, who is running for the seat of Port Darwin for the Country Liberals, said his car was struck just below the car window where his six-year-old daughter happened to be resting her head.
The young girl was lucky to narrowly avoid serious injury.
“When I saw that, my heart started to really pump,” Mr George said.
“When you throw a rock half the size of a brick, at cars going up to 80km an hour, it is a really big impact.
“I have no doubt if it struck someone it could have killed them.”
At the time, Mr George was also travelling with his wife and their eight-year-old son.
Upon realising they had been struck by a rock, they pulled their car over behind a long row of vehicles that also fell victim to the incident.
According to Mr George, six or seven cars were crushed, while the man in the car behind his was shrouded in shattered glass and left with a bleeding arm.
Making matters worse, the rocks continued to be hurled at the cars as occupants of the vehicles stepped out to inspect the damage and check that other involved were not injured.
“To be in the thick of it unfolding was pretty scary,” Mr George said.
Speaking of his children, he said they were terrified of what took place.
“They usually sleep in their own beds, my son was shaking a bit in bed. We are just really lucky that no one was badly hurt or killed,” he said.
While Northern Territory Police and three Darwin units attended the scene, Mr George said despite the numerous calls, no emergency services arrived.
“We called 000 immediately, most of us, all 18- 20 cars. Some drivers hung around for 80 to 50 minutes, but no police came,” Mr George said.
Police Receive Description of Wanted Youths Throwing Rocks
In the aftermath of the incident, police received descriptions of some of the men who are believed to be the alleged offenders.
One is described as being approximately 19-years-old, 6’6″ tall with a skinny build and medium length hair.
Police are encouraging any witnesses to come forward and in particular would like to hear from anyone who may have been driving in the area at that time with dash cam and phone footage.
In conveying the matter to the public, Senior Sergeant Michael Fields highlighted the lethal impact that hurling rocks at vehicles can have and said it was lucky that there were no casualties.
“Fortunately, no injuries were suffered by vehicle occupants,” Sergeant Fields said
“This is a despicable incident and police take these reports very seriously.
“Police are actively seeking the whereabouts of the offenders and urge them to come forward. ”
Why the NSW Government Introduced Tougher Laws Around Throwing Rocks at Vehicles
In 2008, the NSW government introduced tough new laws to make it illegal to throw rocks at vehicles or vessels, regardless of whether or not the rock hit the vehicle or vessel.
The introduction of the laws came into force less than a week after police were brought to the attention of three teenagers believed to be associated with a rock-throwing incident from an overpass in Sydney.
Prior to this, there had been much debate in parliament in relation to an incident that occurred in March 2008, in which a rock-thrower caused a woman permanent brain damage.
The rock shattered the car’s side window and collided with the 22-year-old rear passenger head, which ended up shattering her skull.
A 25-year-old man was sentenced to four years in jail for the attack.
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Throwing rocks or objects at a vehicle in NSW attracts heavy punishment under the law.
In New South Wales, the law prescribed up to 5-years imprisonment under section 49A Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).
This offence occurs if you intentionally throw an object at or towards a vehicle if the vehicle’s on a road, railway or navigable waters, and where there’s a person in the vehicle and where this causes a risk of a person’s safety.
The vehicle doesn’t have to be moving at the time. In fact it may be stationary.
A “vehicle” does not merely refer to a motor vehicle.
Rather, a “vehicle” can also include a train or tram, bicycle, and a vehicle drawn by an animal or an animal ridden by a person, as per section 4 of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW).
In the prosecution of an offence of throwing rocks or other objects at a vehicle or vessel, it is not necessary to prove that the accused was aware that his or her conduct risked the safety of any person, or that the object made contact with the vehicle or vessel.