Gang members who went on a rampage in Melbourne’s CBD last month will face a special “Moomba court” after police charged two dozen people with affray and riotous behaviour.
Twenty of the 24 people charged so far are aged under 17 and will be dealt with by a single magistrate in the Children’s Court of Victoria.
Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane on Monday said members of rival gangs would be kept separate during court appearances but one magistrate would deal with all of the Moomba cases.
“The children’s court has been very cooperative and has set aside one court to deal with all the children’s matters,” Mr Leane told reporters on Monday.
The 24 people charged are aged between 14 and 40.
In some instances, parents and relatives brought their teenage boys into police stations following the March 12 riots after authorities vowed to track them down using CCTV.
“A lot of them were expressing shame that their young sons were involved in this,” he said.
Mr Leane said the boys had shown a fair bit of bravado in their initial contact with police.
“A lot of that bravado has disappeared once they’ve come in for interviews,” he said.
Taskforce Ares has identified 40 individuals involved in the brawls.
Investigators are continuing to trawl through footage and further charges are expected to be laid.
“We hope to wrap this up in the next week or two. There are a lot of people already charged,” Mr Leane said.
Three separate fights took place on the night involving two groups of youths, police say.
The Apex gang from Melbourne’s south had reportedly earlier fallen out with another group from the western suburbs.
Mr Leane said the riots appeared to involve gang members “trying to settle a score”.
He said Apex and its rival gang were not based around one ethnicity.
“It certainly wasn’t racial, I’ve called it the United Nations, but it really was a melting pot,” he said.
Police in November set up taskforce Tense to tackle Apex, whose 100-odd members are thought to be behind a spate of aggravated home burglaries and car thefts.