Child caged for 500km drive to jail

AN 11-year-old Aboriginal boy was arrested, held in custody and transported 500km in a police utility cage.
His crime?
Graffiti: He wrote his own name in spray paint on a footpath and road in the Gulf of Carpentaria town of Normanton last month.
The boy and several of his friends had constantly clashed with police in Normanton for petrol sniffing and stealing. They also broke into a house and stole CDs and money.
After the graffiti crime, a Justice of the Peace ordered the boy be kept in custody before being taken to Mount Isa where he was again imprisoned overnight.
Aboriginal leaders and legal representatives are outraged at his treatment and allege police ignored all recommendations of the Black Deaths in Custody Royal Commission.
Police Minister Judy Spence said her inquiries had revealed that police had ``followed all protocols''.
``I think it is unfortunate that this young offender was detained in this fashion but it was necessary for him to appear in court in Mount Isa,'' Ms Spence said.
``I understand a court was specially convened to hear his case as soon as possible. The police followed the proper procedures.''
Ms Spence said the Families Department, responsible for the welfare of children, had approved of the boy's transport details.
Ms Spence said the child was represented in Normanton Court by Aboriginal Legal Aid which could have applied for bail. But a Mount Isa Legal Aid lawyer disputed that and said the only person in attendance at Normanton was an Aboriginal field officer whose job was to collect people needed in court.
``The first we heard of this case was on the Saturday morning, March 27, when we were notified that a child was in the Mount Isa jail and needed representation in court,'' the lawyer said.
``We got him bail immediately and he was taken to the Aboriginal hostel where he was allowed to ring his parents in Normanton.
``On the previous day the only person there (in Normanton Court) was Mr Lance Owens, an indigenous field officer who has no legal qualification, no legal training, and no legal standing. It is ridiculous to suggest that a field officer could argue for bail.
``A Families Department officer should have been contacted. There was no Families Department representation at court in Mount Isa the next morning either.''
Officer in charge of Mount Isa police, Assistant Supt Mick Huddlestone, said the charge against the boy was related to property damage.
``It is common for young people from up here -- Doomadgee, Mornington and Normanton -- to be held in the watchhouse awaiting court, but usually they are flown straight to Townsville,'' Supt Huddlestone said.
The boy's case was finalised in Mount Isa Children's Court. He pleaded guilty and was put on 12 months' probation to be served in the custody of his uncle in Brisbane.
Indigenous academic, parole board member and head of the women's task force into violence on communities, Boni Robertson, met the child and his family yesterday.
She said it was appalling a young boy would be treated this way.
``Every protocol regarding the handling by police of a juvenile has been broken, and it is ridiculous to suggest otherwise,'' Ms Robertson said. ``What danger does an 11-year-old pose so serious that he has to be remanded in custody, and his parents not even notified?
``And where was the Department of Families in all this?''
Local Aboriginal leader Murrandoo Yanner said: ``It is no wonder our kids grow up frightened of police and holding them in contempt when they see what happens to young children who need guidance, not imprisonment.
``Murderers and rapists get bail in Queensland, but not black children.''