Accused Acmena rioters face court

FOUR youths appeared in the Grafton Children's Court yesterday to face charges arising from Sunday night's violent outburst at Acmena Juvenile Detention Centre.

The four boys, who legally cannot be identified because of their age, have all been charged with affray and three with malicious damage.

One of the co-accused is a 15-year-old boy from Goonellabah, who also has been charged with assault.

The boys appeared only briefly before Magistrate Kim Pogson, who adjourned each case until February 6.

Magistrate Pogson was asked if all four cases could be held over as a group and referred to the Department of Public Prosecution for consideration.

Police were called to the South Grafton detention centre on Swallow Road after a group of youths allegedly trashed administrative equipment, pulled out electrical cables in the roof and cracked windows.

It is also alleged that the youths locked themselves in the facility's Clarence wing ? one of three wings at the centre ? threatened staff with a makeshift knife and flooded rooms.

A New South Wales Department of Juvenile Justice spokesperson said plans were in place to have the four youths transferred to other NSW Juvenile Justice centres yesterday afternoon or early this morning.

It is believed that a 17-year-old boy from Lismore, who is charged with one count of affray, and another 17-year-old from Armidale, who faces affray and malicious damage charges, would be sent to the Frank Baxter Juvenile Justice Centre in Kariong.

A 14-year-old, of Dondingalong near Kempsey, who was charged with affray and malicious damage, and a 15-year-old Goonellabah boy, charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm, malicious damage and affray, were both expected to be transferred to the Reiby Centre at Airds.

The boys showed little emotion while inside the courtroom and were accompanied in and out of the dock by two male officers.

Member for Clarence Steve Cansdell yesterday demanded the State Minister for Juvenile Justice, Tony Kelly, take control of the situation.

"This is not a child-minding centre ... we need rehabilitation and direction," Mr Cansdell said.

"Tony Kelly has to take control of Acmena and the juvenile justice system and give it some direction."

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