A 15-year-old boy will spend at least four months in a youth justice facility for stabbing his father in the neck with a kitchen knife.
The teenager wanted to be released straight away with a therapeutic sentence.
But Judge Noel Walsh told the boy in the Youth Court: "You came very close to causing a needless tragedy - the death of your father."
The boy's father was in court to see the sentencing, along with other family members and supporters from their small migrant community.
He has accepted the boy's apology, expressed in a letter handed to the judge today.
The boy wrote: "I am sorry, Father, for what I did. I was angry over the years of neglection [sic] and felt I was being ignored and bullied. I should not have hurt you like that. I hope we can find a solution to our communications."
The boy hoped that he would be allowed to move home after a period living with his aunt.
He is a talented sports player and told his father: "I hope to score one try while you are watching my game."
The court heard that the boy was angry with his father for being told he was not allowed to watch television, but had to tidy his room and wash his clothes in the laundry.
He took a 13-centimetre knife from the kitchen drawer and stabbed his father in the neck from behind as he sat on a couch.
The stab wound lacerated his windpipe and put him into an induced coma in hospital, where he remained in intensive care for four days.
He has recovered after six weeks off work, while the son has spent three months in custody since his immediate arrest.
Judge Walsh had to decide whether to send the case to the District Court for an adult sentence, but decided to keep it in the Youth Court jurisdiction.
Youth advocate Tony Greig urged that it stay in the Youth Court, saying that the boy was "a confused and troubled young man".
It was dangerous to conclude that he showed no remorse because he came from a culture where it was seen as weakness to show emotion.
Crown prosecutor Deirdre Elsmore said police were concerned not just for the family but for the wider community's safety if the boy was released without therapeutic help.
She urged that a sentence of supervision with residence at the youth justice facility be imposed to allow that treatment to take place.
Judge Walsh said reports showed the boy had learning difficulties, and the family had moved frequently since coming to New Zealand, with him attending eight schools in nine years.
"That must have taken its toll on your ability to make meaningful relationships."
He said he accepted the boy had now expressed remorse, but it was understandable that his father felt unsafe if he were to return to the family home.
"The fact is, I cannot ignore your history of threatening your mother with a knife in the presence of your sister."
He imposed a sentence of six months' suprevision with residence at the youth justice facility near Christchurch, but he said that if the boy displayed no more behavioural issues and progressed well with his school work, he would give favourable consideration to an early release at a hearing in December.
The judge told the boy's family and supporters in court: "Thank you for coming and supporting him. It is early days. We have got a long way to go and I think he will be all right."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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