A child accused of murder has asked why she can’t be around other kids, as a court is updated on plans to renovate bespoke accommodation to house her.
The 12-year-old girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, is alleged to have stabbed a 37-year-old woman to death at Footscray, in Melbourne’s inner-west, on November 16.
She has been charged with murder and bailed to a secure welfare facility.
The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing applied to revoke her bail in December, revealing she had become more violent and it could no longer ensure the safety of the girl, staff and other residents.
The department told a court she had made threats to kill staff and other children at the facility, including that she would “burn the place down”.
But a Supreme Court judge rejected the department’s application and she was allowed to stay at the secure welfare facility, however the court must review this housing every 21 days.
The matter returned to the court on Wednesday, with the 12-year-old girl watching remotely, and she was ordered to remain at the facility until February 19.
Her lawyer said the girl had asked “how long she will remain at secure welfare and why she’s unable to associate with other children” when she met with her solicitor on Tuesday.
“I’m told the environment is relatively settled,” the lawyer told the court.
The judge said he was “not sure this is the appropriate forum to answer those questions”.
Lawyers for the department, which is the child’s legal guardian, updated the court on its progress in renovating bespoke accommodation, where it hopes to house the girl in the future.
“The building works required for the child to safely reside in the home have all been identified, a building contractor has been engaged to undertake all the building works,” a departmental lawyer said.
She said an architect and engineer had been engaged to draw up designs for perimeter fencing around the property, but that would be subject to local council approval.
“The council will not commit to a time frame for granting a building permit,” she said.
The judge asked for the department to provide a timetable to the court, outlining the next steps including when the planning application will be lodged with the council.
“The court considers this matter to be extremely urgent,” he said.
He flagged that he may bring the matter back for a mention to ask the council to tell the court what its position is, if there are any issues.
Police claimed the girl was found in a hallway by neighbours after the alleged killing, where she said she “tried to drag her into the shower”, a children’s court was told last week.
Prosecutors hope to use false butterfly fingernails found next to the woman’s body and bloody shoes as key evidence to convict the child, for which the court is awaiting forensic test results.
She will next face a children’s court in March, where a magistrate will decide whether to allow prosecutors to extract DNA from her.