Media attempted to cover the Children’s Court proceedings regarding the Peregian bushfires, which are alleged to have been deliberately lit by teenagers. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily
Media attempted to cover the Children’s Court proceedings regarding the Peregian bushfires, which are alleged to have been deliberately lit by teenagers. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily

Court denies media bid to access Peregian fire cases

THE Daily's bid to cover the court proceedings of one of two teenagers charged over the Peregian bushfires has been refused.

Magistrate Andrew Walker explained Children's Court was closed by "default" to anyone not directly involved, unless the court was convinced otherwise.

Mr Walker said the media could apply to cover the future proceedings.

A 15-year-old Coolum Beach girl and 14-year-old Peregian Springs boy were each charged with endangering by fire after an investigation into the allegedly deliberately-lit blaze last week.

The fire destroyed bushland, an elderly woman's home and forced residents to evacuate as fire threatened hundreds of homes.

 

Drone photos after the fire devastation at Peregian. David Low Way and Emu Mountain Road.
Drone photos after the fire devastation at Peregian. David Low Way and Emu Mountain Road.

 

The Daily, alongside representatives from ABC and 7 News, argued the teenager's court proceedings were of significant public interest and the court should grant media access.

Prosecutor James Allen conceded there was a public interest, but objected to the media's presence on grounds news coverage could be "prejudicial" to the defendant child.

Legal Aid solicitor Rachel Holland also objected to the media's presence and requested further time to take instructions and make further objections.

The court remained closed while one of the teenagers is believed to have appeared. A second teenager charged over the fire will appear next week.

The Daily will return to court with other media on October 2.

At this time, the media, prosecution and defence will be invited to make further submissions on coverage of the teenagers' future legal proceedings.

Under Queensland law the media is forbidden from publishing identifying information about a youth offender.

In Queensland, there is a general rule courts should conduct their proceedings in public and only in wholly exceptional circumstances should the public be excluded from proceedings.


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