Psychologist considers Australian boy ‘old enough’ for murder trial based on appearance


A clinical psychologist determined that a 13-year-old boy had the mental capacity to be tried for murder because of his physical appearance.

The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is one of eight people charged in Melbourne over the death of 16-year-old Declan Cutler.

Cutler was stabbed to death on Reservoir Street in Melbourne on March 13, 2013.

All of the accused will appear in children’s court this week, where a magistrate will decide if there is enough evidence to bring the case to trial.

A clinical psychologist has written a report to the court on whether a 13-year-old boy had the mental capacity to recognize that what he had done was wrong.

A psychologist told the court the boy had the ability, even though he had never interviewed teenagers.

She said in court that she watched hours of police tapes and body-worn footage of boys detained between the ages of 10 and 13.

Psychologists said he had matured physically during that time, becoming taller and leaner, and his facial features had changed. This is thought to correlate with cognitive development.

She told the court that as children mature cognitively, they become less impulsive and more able to use reason.

The woman also wrote in her report that a 13-year-old boy played a premeditated role in previous crimes, and there was no evidence that he was a follower.

When the 13-year-old boy’s lawyer asked the psychologist if he was referring to the incident where the boy allegedly spat on a security guard, the woman said yes.

But she rejected that premise when she told psychologists that other reports had determined that 13-year-old girls are easily led by others.

“I can accept that there are other opinions,” the psychologist told the court.

The magistrate said he would not rule on the question of whether the 13-year-old girl had sufficient knowledge to commit the crime.

She instead focused solely on whether there was sufficient evidence to bring all or some of the accused to trial.

A forensic pathologist also provided evidence in children’s court about Declan’s cause of death.

A forensic autopsy revealed the 16-year-old boy had numerous injuries, including four stab wounds to his chest and back, she said.

The cause of death was attributed to a knife to the heart, but pathologists were unable to determine which of the four wounds to the chest led to the fatal injury.

After seeing CCTV footage of the incident, the woman said she also did not know who struck the fatal blow.

Hearings continue Thursday.



Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.