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Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Barossa's Most Wanted - based around street bashing, hoon driving and drugs - is striking often in towns in the region.

Barossa's Most Wanted - based around street bashing, hoon driving and drugs - is striking often in towns in the region. Commissioner for Victims' Rights Michael O'Connell, a former police officer, said it was "frightening that much of the violence appears to be committed for pleasure". "These videos cater for the public fascination with violence, they promote hostility, and the victims are not always humans - animals are sickeningly mistreated, even mutilated," he said.
Aged from 15 to 20, the Barossa group's website features video of an unprovoked public bashing of a youth in Hindley St.The group claims to initiate the violence so the images can be distributed "just for fun and jokes". The site advertises prices for methamphetamines, refers to hoon driving and displays numerous sadistic images.
"Barossa's Most Wanted . . . We are proud of who we are . . . We would like to meet anyone who is like us!, Don't Giva F . . . ! Into booze brawls and all the hardcore s . . . ," the website boasts. A second group, Salisbury Most Wanted, also has its own web page based on violence and Australian nationalist propaganda, including threats of violence against the Barossa group. The site features a photograph of an Australian flag with a large machete lying across it and other violent images. Another unidentified group or individual in the South-East has this week circulated a mobile phone image of a teenager who had been stabbed. It was taken on Saturday night in the town of Nangwarry and shows the teenager lying in a pool of blood in a street. The youth is in a stable condition in Royal Adelaide Hospital. Experts say the growing trend is aimed at attaining celebrity status. Mr O'Connell said: "These videos too often show that people - frequently young people - are capable of terrible brutality. "It is disgusting to see these people . . . verbally and physically terrorising their victims and innocent bystanders. "For the victims there is no humour or entertainment. "These videos and the cyber-chatter they generate are an invasion of the victim's privacy." Barossa Valley Senior Sergeant Martin Kennedy said that since last year, police intelligence had been tracking the individuals who have since formed the Barossa group. Sen-Sgt Kennedy said several gang members had been arrested in recent months for assault, graffiti and property damage. The Barossa group's website boasts of court appearances and home detention. "Intelligence officers have been monitoring what they put up on the internet and we have access to all their sites," Sen-Sgt Kennedy said.
He said the style of crime had been identified not only in the Barossa. "We have had it here but there have also been examples throughout other parts of South Australia - it is pretty well a new thing everywhere." Psychologist Daryl Cross said the trend was disturbing because of the nature of the crimes. "These people (who take the pictures) are highly disturbed, they lack empathy, they lack a complete understanding of others and they lack compassion," he said. "And because they're highly disturbed they get their significance or their feeling of notoriety from taking photographs and publishing them to others." The Australian Hotels Association's Barossa Valley representative, Andrew Plush, who owns hotels in Angaston, Kapunda and Nuriootpa, said the Barossa group emerged 12 months ago. "They are under pub-aged kids, 13, 14 or 15, so they don't tend to make it into the pubs," Mr Plush said. Victims of the 40-member Barossa's Most Wanted, who feared being named, have told The Advertiser of the havoc resulting from the violence and appealed for action. Earlier this year, fights involving schoolgirls at a Gawler railway station were posted on the YouTube website. "Counselling and talking will not stop this . . . so the only thing that impacts on these individuals is penalties," Dr Cross said. "It (filming) is almost as bad as committing the crime, there's a fine line here." Attorney-General Michael Atkinson said laws already existed to govern the distribution of offensive material through carriage services. "The Commonwealth charge of using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence carries a maximum penalty of three years' jail," he said.


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