Teen remains in prison

A Central Otago teenager remanded in custody almost two weeks ago on a charge of sexually violating a Wanaka schoolgirl will have to stay there.

Bail was sought for the 17-year-old at a hearing in the Invercargill District Court yesterday, but Judge John McDonald turned the application down.

The youth, who has interim name suppression, is charged with violating a girl aged between 12 and 16 on February 10. He was remanded in custody the following day so a psychiatric report could be obtained.

His counsel, Russell Checketts, said yesterday the teenager was being held in a secure cell at the Otago Correctional Facility at Milton. While the charge was serious, he had no previous convictions and had never come to the attention of the police before. He had full-time work and his employer was prepared to allow him to work.

Mr Checketts said he appreciated the complainant had concerns about his client being back in the community, but any potential risks could be managed through bail conditions including an alcohol ban, a curfew and an order he not go near the complainant's house.

Judge McDonald said he was not prepared to release the teenager on bail until he had seen the psychiatric report and that had not yet been completed. He said he had concerns about the teenager's mental health, including ''extensive admissions of suicidal, homicidal and command hallucination'' thoughts. He also had to consider the safety of the complainant.

The teenager was remanded in custody to appear again in the Queenstown court on March 11, but Judge McDonald said he would consider a fresh bail application before then if the psychiatric report was available.

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