ACT News

Canberra teenager jailed for Northbourne Avenue murder has probation halved

A teenager who was jailed for 10 years for the "indescribably vicious" murder of a university graduate on Northbourne Avenue has had his probation period halved because of an error by the courts.

The 19-year-old, who cannot be named, was sentenced in the ACT Supreme Court last week for using a machete to brutally murder Liang Zhao.

Mr Zhao, 27, was walking along the busy road in the hope of being picked up by his mother, after arriving at the Jolimont Centre on a bus from Melbourne late one night in August 2011.

Instead, he encountered the teenager and his co-offender, Taylor Schmidt, on the footpath.

The pair were armed with a machete and a baseball bat, and had left a nearby flat with the intention of robbing someone.

They knocked Mr Zhao to the ground, dragging him from the footpath.

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The pair stole $21 in cash and his mobile phone, before Schmidt struck him with a baseball bat.

Mr Zhao cried out, and the unnamed offender, then 17, warned him to be quiet and not tell the police.

He then hit him in the wrist with the machete, prompting more screaming.

The pair then began to fatally beat Mr Zhao with the weapons.

They inflicted fatal wounds, breaking his skull and leaving his brain exposed.

The unnamed defendant was sentenced to 17 years jail by Justice Richard Refshauge last week, which was to be suspended after 10 years and six months, meaning he would be free by the age of 28.

The juvenile was then to be put on a good-behaviour order for six years. This was designed to replace a parole period.

But Justice Refshauge was forced to reduce the  time the teenager would spend under supervision, one of the conditions of his good behaviour order, upon his release from the Alexander Maconochie Centre.

 The supervision period for the teenager was reduced from six years to three, because juveniles can only be supervised for a maximum of three years.

‘‘I’m probably the last person you want to see right now,’’ Justice Refshauge told the offender. ‘‘I got it wrong, and I’m sorry for that.’’

The teenager replied, ‘‘That’s all right, Your Honour.’’

Schmidt’s  sentencing process is expected to begin later this month.

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