THERE wouldn’t be a local court across the state that isn’t familiar with the word “remorse”.
Every day people found guilty of committing criminal offences stand up and say it. They wish they hadn’t driven after drinking. They wish they hadn’t thrown a punch. They wish they hadn’t stolen money or sold drugs or vandalised public property.
They are remorseful. They feel shame, guilt and regret for what they’ve done and vow they’ll never do it again.
In the majority of cases that turns out to be correct. Many people do stupid things once that lands them in court, and the shame – and sometimes the cost – of being charged, convicted and sentenced teaches them a lesson they carry for life.
Many times people express remorse and those listening are left wondering if it’s guilt over what they’ve done, or regret that they’ve been caught.
But often there’s another person, or people, in the equation when someone commits a criminal act, and that’s the victim. Regularly it’s the victim who pays the bigger price when people commit crimes.
On Saturday night at Charlestown a teenage girl celebrated her 18th birthday with family and friends. Her parents were responsible and reported the party to police, and let neighbours know it would be held.
There was another party – described by police as an open party – not too far away that night which was broken up. Those gathered left the scene and found their way to the home of the 18-year-old.
When they were denied access the teenagers, some as young as 15, responded with verbal attacks. Projectiles were thrown, including part of a brick, and a girl was struck on the head. She required stitches.
It was nothing but dumb luck that stopped this incident from becoming a tragic event, and it requires a considered and concerted response from a number of levels.
Those involved need to be identified and found. It is right for the community to be concerned about how teenagers as young as 15 were at an “open party”, and ask questions about what parents knew and didn’t know. It is also right to deal with this matter as an alleged crime, regardless of the age of the alleged perpetrator.
Every week in NSW courts there are cases where there is no dumb luck, and where an angry act has unintended, and tragic, consequences. Remorse is the emptiest and cruellest of words then.