MHDCD Project

6.4.8. Michael

Michael is an Indigenous man in his mid-20s. He was diagnosed as a child as having an intellectual disability with a total IQ of 54 (verbal IQ of 52 and non-verbal IQ of 65). He has a long history of substance abuse. Police records note that he began abusing substances at the age of five and throughout his life he is noted as using alcohol, cannabis, amphetamines, heroin, cocaine, petrol and glue. Michael’s childhood was characterised by instability and due to domestic violence in the home he was a state ward from the age of five, living in a number of different OOHC placements. Michael is unable to read or write. He was placed in a special class at school until suspended for criminal behaviour in year five.

At the age of 11, Michael was the victim of a sexual assault by a neighbour of extended family members with whom Michael was living. After the sexual assault Michael was taken into care though he immediately absconded, and police then discovered him in a semi-conscious state in a park. Due to concerns for his welfare and because he was in breach of current bail conditions he was taken first to the police station then subsequently to the hospital as police believed he had inhaled aerosol. Michael absconded from hospital and was subsequently arrested by police and placed in the care of Community Services before running away again.

Police contact in Michael’s youth primarily relates to petty theft offences and bail breaches, escalating to motor vehicle theft and break and enters. He frequently absconded from his carers or foster parents and during these periods he repeatedly offended. Upon being apprehended by police, he generally admitted his guilt freely, rarely lying in order to attempt to extricate himself from a situation. Whilst in police custody, police record a number of instances of self-harm. He also had numerous escape attempts, and frequently assaulted police whilst in custody. Michael had 163 episodes of police custody as a young person, and 25 juvenile justice custody episodes.

Michael’s contact with the criminal justice system began early in his life in a context of great vulnerability and violence, and increased in association with his drug use and an escalation in the seriousness of the offences for which he was arrested. He experienced little positive intervention by child protection or disability services.

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