Five of the six boys accused of murdering Mandurah man Tauri Litchfield today said they would take the charges to trial without a jury while their families claim they are the victims of racism.
The six youths appeared via videolink in the Perth Children’s Court today, accused of attacking Mr Litchfield as he walked home from the Brighton Hotel after attending Mandurah’s Crabfest with friends and family in March.
He was found unconscious in a Mandurah carpark and died in hospital.
Today, five of the juveniles confirmed pleas of not guilty and elected to have a four-week trial heard by a judge alone in the Children’s Court rather than in a different court with a jury.
The trial was listed to start on February 3 next year.
One of the accused went on to add "dumb c...s" after the pleas, followed by laughing.
The proceedings were watched by Mr Litchfield’s grieving family and also by the accused boys’ family members who watched proceedings from another courtroom.
One of the boys’ lawyers today said that his client’s family believed they were being racially discriminated against by having to watch the proceedings in a different courtroom.
"There’s a concern ... that there is an element of race involved," defence lawyer Simon Freitag said, explaining that the family believed Aboriginal people were being segregated from those in the courtroom.
But Judge Denis Reynolds said there was no basis to the suggestion and it was regrettable if they felt that way.
He also pointed out that presence in the courtroom was being "rotated" because it was impossible to fit everyone in and that the boys’ family had previously had a turn too.The youth who has yet to formally enter a plea had another court appearance scheduled next month while all six accused will appear on October 18.