Westfield brawl over $285 jumper: court

Defence lawyer Kassandra Girolamo leaves Adelaide Youth Court where she is defending youths who sparked a massive police response and lockdown of Westfield Marion. Picture: NewsWire / Brenton Edwards

A teen at the centre of last month’s Marion Westfield shopping centre meltdown is contesting the allegations against him.

Defence lawyer Kassandra Girolamo, speaking for the 15-year-old boy at Adelaide Youth Court on Thursday, said a “significant amount of the facts of this matter are disputed”, including the allegation her client was holding a machete at the time of the alleged fracas in the centre’s food court.

The police have charged the boy and two other teens with assault, theft and affray offences after an altercation between two groups of boys erupted on Sunday afternoon about 3pm on June 23.

The fight, allegedly over a designer $285 jumper, sparked panic and the centre’s emergency lockdown procedures, with specialist tactical police storming the centre and hundreds of shoppers fleeing in fear.

But Ms Girolamo, in making an application for home detention bail before Magistrate Tracee Micallef, said the police had not yet found a machete in her client’s possession, her client denied possessing a machete and denied assaulting or physically contacting another youth.

She also said while the argument between the two groups of boys was “anti-social”, it was “not uncommon”.

Defence lawyer Kassandra Girolamo leaves Adelaide Youth Court after securing home detention bail for her client. Picture: NewsWire / Brenton Edwards

“It’s clear from the facts that another groups of youths are the ones who have approached (my client) and the co-accused.

“On my instructions, it is the other group of youths who have agitated an argument in the food court at Marion.

“It has resulted obviously in some anti-social behaviour … but in my respectful submission (my client’s) involvement and (my client’s) intention was certainly not any where near what ultimately occurred at Marion that day.

“By the time Marion had gone into lockdown …(my client) … had already left the shopping centre.

“(My client) had no idea about the amount of fear and panic that had been caused.”

Ms Girolamo said to hold her client and co-accused responsible for the mass panic and fear after he had already was a “long bow to draw”.

She also argued the alleged victims of the melee, who have provided witness statements to the police and form a core part of the prosecution’s case, were “unreliable”.

The teens accused of sparking the chaos at Marion Westfield in late June appeared in court on Thursday for bail hearings. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Kelly Barnes

She said the case would hang on “make or break” CCTV footage to determine the truth about what happened that afternoon and the serious charges against her client could be altered following negotiations with the prosecution.

“It is accepted on the facts of charge that it is this other group, who are the alleged victims, who approach (my client) and the co-accused and start throwing chairs and start acting in an anti-social manner,” she said.

“And yet (my client) and his co-offenders have been charged with aggravated affray.

“But the alleged victims have not and in my respectful submission, they may not be the most reliable people in this matter to be providing evidence to the court.”

The court heard the teen was on a suspended sentence at the time of the Marion brawl.

Ms Micallef granted the teen home detention bail with strict conditions, including drug testing.

“There is evidence that stable environments leads to (the teen) having no further offending,” she said.

Addressing the teen directly, who appeared in court via videolink, Ms Micallef said: “if you come before me again there will be no way you will be granted bail again.”

“Do I make myself very clear?”

Tania Reckwell greets her son Zac after he was locked in the Westfield Marion on June 23. Picture: NewsWire / Brenton Edwards

The teen replied he understood the Magistrate’s warning.

The bail application for a second 15-year-old teen was withdrawn. His case was adjourned until August 8 at Christies Beach Magistrates Court.

The lawyer for a 16-year-old teen withdraw her client’s bail application and he was remanded in custody until his next hearing on August 1 at Christies Beach Magistrates.

There were no injuries from the altercation between the boys, but a woman in her 70s and a teenage girl suffered injuries in the panic and evacuation that ensued.

Video of the terrifying moments quickly circulated across social media.

Heavily armed STAR officers storm into the centre and sirens can be heard going off in the centre as shoppers scramble to flee.

Other footage from the centre posted to social media shows people locked down and waiting in the Target staffroom.

The food court fracas triggered a massive police response. Picture: NewsWire / Brenton Edwards
The food court fracas triggered a massive police response. Picture: NewsWire / Brenton Edwards

One photo from the scene shows a billboard warning: “Armed Offender: Escape, Hide, Tell”.

Numerous stores, including Woolworths and Rebel Sport, shuttered their doors on the alert to keep shoppers safe.

One shopper, writing to social media, said the scene turned into “absolute bedlam” after the alert sounded.

“The alert was so quiet and took until the 3rd one to realise,” she said.

“We were in the movies with the two kids and it wasn’t until the third one she said weapon David Jones and so shook up.

“We ran out the fire escape as one of the first from the whole cinemas and were left to find an escape. Just opening doors to find which one gets to the carport.”