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Grandparents traumatised after home invasion by Aboriginal youths in crime-ridden country town

Moree crime wave

A terrifying home invasion in the crime-ridden country town of Moree has left an elderly couple too afraid to sleep in their own house.

Noel and Marcia Smith were attacked by young Indigenous intruders inside their home earlier this month in the northern New South Wales town 0f 7,000 which has some of the highest crime rates in the state.

Marcia told A Current Affair through tears that she has been unable to relax since the terrifying home invasion which left her husband battered and bruised.

“I’m just traumatised. I can’t sleep at night… I sit on the bed, I can’t sleep, I’m just so frightened they’re going to come again,” she said.

Noel, 85, suffered a nasty gash on his head after being knocked to the ground and bashed with a jimmy bar while trying to defend Marcia with a stool.

“[I am a] bit bruised around the hips and things … they could have killed me when they had me there on the floor,” he said.

Their granddaughter Tayla said it was the eighth time young thugs had tried to break in, and police say 63% of the crime in the town is committed by offenders who have been released on bail.

Indigenous leader Darrel Smith said he was devastated by the crime wave, which he said was creating division in the town.

“It’s dividing our community as well it’s tarring the rest of our community with a brush that says you’re all doing that when it’s not – they’re a small minority of people that are doing this,” he said.Aboriginal overrepresentation in youth crime

Moree has a population of 7,845, 60.2% of which are non-Indigenous, according to the 2021 Census. Of the remainder, 22.9% are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, and 16.9% did not provide their Indigenous status.

In the year to December 2023, the Moree Plains local government area had 2,360.9 break and enter dwelling offences per 100,000 people, the highest rate in the state, and almost 10 times the NSW average of 246.8.

It was also the worst in the state for motor vehicle theft, robbery without a weapon, robbery with a weapon not a firearm, sexual assault, disorderly conduct and malicious damage to property.

Moree was the second worst for break and enter non-dwelling, steal from motor vehicle, and non-domestic assault, and the third-worst for domestic assault and assault police.

According the the most recent NSW Bureau of Crime Statistic and Research quarterly report, Aboriginals are overrepresented at every stage of the criminal justice system.

Aboriginal young people are just 6.2% of the state’s population aged 10-17, but in September 2023 made up 54.8% of the juvenile detention population, and 43.1% return to custody within a year of being released.

In 2022, 54% of young people proceeded against to court by police were Aboriginal, as well as 66% of young people who were refused bail at their first court bail appearance.

Of youth offenders found guilty in court, 50% involved an Aboriginal defendant.

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