A deadly brawl should serve as "a salutary warning as to how quickly trivial matters may escalate and how tragically wrong they can go", the ACT's chief magistrate says.
Lorraine Walker made that comment on Thursday as she sentenced six people over the Weston skatepark fight that ended with the stabbing death of an 18-year-old man.
None of those dealt with during the joint sitting of the ACT magistrates and children's courts were accused of killing the deceased teenager in the September 2020 incident.
The lengthy court session ended with the two boys who initiated the confrontation being given good behaviour orders, while another child offender was spared a conviction because of "vicious" reprisal attacks.
Two of the adult participants in the brawl received suspended jail sentences, while the other now faces the prospect of deportation.
These were all consequences flowing from what Ms Walker labelled "a sorry episode", which began with a war of words on social media
In her sentencing remarks, the chief magistrate said one 16-year-old boy "stupidly became involved in a matter that had nothing to do with him, with a person he did not know".
That other person, who was the same age, responded with an expletive-laden Snapchat rant.
"I'll kill your f---ing family, c---. I'll piss on your mum's f---ing grave, bro," he said.
The back-and-forth, described by Ms Walker as "loud, angry and nasty", eventually resulted in the two boys agreeing to meet at the skatepark for a one-on-one fist fight.
Both, however, enlisted others to attend with them, leading 12 people to turn up.
Up to nine engaged in a wild melee, which included the stabbing of one of the 16-year-olds and that boy's 18-year-old cousin, the latter of whom died.
The whole incident lasted about three minutes.
Sentencing the deceased's cousin, Ms Walker said the boy had been enraged by the Snapchat exchange, behaving in a "heated, violent, provocative and juvenile" way.
She said this boy had "learnt the most salutary of lessons" and now suffered complex grief.
The boy was convicted of affray and placed on an eight-month good behaviour order.
The youth he was supposed to fight one-on-one pleaded guilty to affray and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Ms Walker called this teenager's offending "archetypically juvenile", but she said he was now apparently ashamed and "profoundly remorseful".
The court heard the boy had been assaulted in a reprisal attack, while his girlfriend had been the subject of what Ms Walker called "a sustained campaign of vilification, stalking and property damage".
This boy was convicted and given a 16-month good behaviour order.
Another reprisal took the form of an arson attack at the family home of an offender who was 17 at the time of the brawl.
This young man, who pleaded guilty to being knowingly concerned in an affray, drove the three adult offenders to and from the scene.
Ms Walker agreed with his barrister, Jason Moffett, that it was appropriate to dismiss the charge without conviction in light of the arson attack and two other vigilante incidents.
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The three adults involved in the skatepark fight were Jaxson Dillon Kirkwood, 26, Emmanuel Umunakwe, 20, and Montgomery Cole White, 19.
All of them pleaded guilty to affray, property damage and common assault.
The court heard Kirkwood, who punched the deceased about five times and repeatedly struck the bonnet of a car with a pickaxe, had made "concerning" comments to the author of a court report about being willing to engage in similar conduct in the future if necessary.
"He simply does not get how unacceptable violence is, in any form, in the community," Ms Walker said as she sentenced him to a fully suspended jail term of seven months.
White, who damaged the same car with a shovel and also punched the deceased, got a suspended jail sentence as well.
His was for four months, but Ms Walker said it would have been six if not for reprisals that had resulted in an estimated $30,000 impact on the apprentice plumber's family.
Umunakwe played a lesser role than the other adults, having held the deceased to aid White in an assault before breaking the car's rear windshield with a rake.
Ms Walker noted any conviction would place the 20-year-old Nigerian at risk of deportation because it may result in the cancellation of his protection visa.
While this would be an "awful consequence", she found it would be inappropriate to spare him convictions as she imposed an 18-month good behaviour order.
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