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Authorities Will Not Review Sentence Of Driver Who Left Indigenous Boy For Dead

Despite pleas from the family there will not be an appeal of the non-custodial sentence given to hit and run driver.

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The Northern Territory Attorney-General John Elferink has told BuzzFeed News that the NT Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP) will not appeal the sentence given to 23-year-old Matthew Alexander for the hit-and-run death of eight-year-old Jack Sultan-Page on the outskirts of Darwin last year.

Elferink says that the DPP Director Jack Karczewski QC found Justice Stephen Southwood sentencing to be fair.

"I asked the head of the DPP here to review whether or not the sentence was manifestly inadequate. The head of the DPP has indicated that he is disinclined to appeal it on the grounds that the sentence was adequate in relation to the offence for which he was found guilty," he said.

Sultan-Page was riding his BMX bike on Davoren Circuit in Moulden, a suburb of Palmerston, a satellite city on the outskirts of Darwin, when he was struck by Alexander's car last November

After hitting the eight-year-old, Alexander kept driving, leaving the injured boy on the road, he then later tried to hide the damage on the front of his vehicle. Alexander was charged with failing to stop and render assistance. Sultan-Page later died in Darwin Base Hospital from head injuries.

News that the DPP will not appeal has devastated Faye and Michael Sultan-Page who say they feel deserted by the system.

Allan Clarke / BuzzFeed

"I'm gutted, not happy about that at all. What they've forgotten is that he [Alexander] has actually taken someone's life. And what is six months home detention?" Faye told BuzzFeed News from her home in Moulden.

"He should have stopped and helped. Because he didn't stop, he should have been charged with manslaughter or something more serious than fleeing the scene. It's not all Jack's blame; my poor little boy. He's not here to stand up and speak for himself."

Faye says the system has not delivered justice and has made her feel that the death was her fault.

"I’m left with a messed head trying to come to terms with this. Yes, I let my boy go for a ride on his bike that day, I’m taking the blame for it, but it seems like I am the one who drove the car."

"What a kick in the guts, he wasn't even man enough to stop and help my boy. It just seems that they have put all the blame on that little boy, it's just really hard," Faye says.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda slammed the Northern Territory justice system when the sentence was handed down last month.

Alan Porritt / AAPIMAGE

"We look at our mob going to jail for the simple thing of not paying fines, yet someone can be involved in the death of a child and there is no sanction whatsoever," Gooda told NITV News,

According to the Bureau of Statistics Indigenous people make up 86% of the prison population in the Northern Territory. When asked if the NT judicial system was racially prejudiced, Gooda replied that "it's hard to get away from making that conclusion when you look at the facts."

"The facts are that our people are locked up more and more than anyone else up there and they certainly, a lot of those people, I'd say the great majority of those people have not been involved in the death of a child."

Attorney-General Elferink rejects Gooda's claims of a racial divide.

"I’ve raised my disapproval of that matter of that particular assertion with the Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda and indicated to him that that was an inappropriate comment to make," Elferink told BuzzFeed News.

"The justice system in the Northern Territory delivers its justice without fear or favor and to assert that there is some racial motivation in relation on the part of the judge is something that I reject outright."

Formerly with BuzzFeed News, Allan Clarke is a NITV reporter based in Sydney.

Contact Allan Clarke at arielle.benedek+AC@buzzfeed.com.

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