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Australian Court Sends Man To 3 Months Jail For Assaulting Indian Cabbie

An Australian accused of assaulting an Indian taxi driver in a Victorian city was on Friday swiftly sentenced to three months in jail, hours after he verbally and physically abused the cabbie under a spell
PTI January 15, 2010 12:16 IST
PTI

An Australian accused of assaulting an Indian taxi driver in a Victorian city was on Friday swiftly sentenced to three months in jail, hours after he verbally and physically abused the cabbie under a spell of alcohol.

Paul John Brogden, 48, from Ballarat in Western Victoria, who was arrested after he abused and assaulted the Indian early this morning, was sentenced after he pleaded guilty to threatening to kill the victim.

The taxi driver Satheesh Thatipamula, 24, was abused and assaulted and his vehicle damaged by Brogden, who believed the driver had taken him the wrong way.

"When you drop me off I will kill you, you mother f**king Indian, I will kill you, you f**king Indian bastard," he allegedly told the Indian. The driver, however, did not receive any major injuries.

Brogden's lawyer, Philip Lynch, said he had consumed so much alcohol he could not remember the events of the night."I actually don't know how he was standing up," Lynch said.

In sentencing the man to an immediate three-month jail term, Magistrate Michelle Hodgson said she must consider "general deterrence".

"Regardless of race, violence toward people in vulnerable positions, performing valuable services to the community, valuable jobs like driving taxis or working in 7/11s, violence toward these people will not be tolerated," he said.

The court heard Brogden called for a taxi about 2 am (local time) after an extended binge drinking session where he consumed 24 VB stubbies on top of several valium tablets that he was taking for a back injury.

After he became abusive, the driver pulled into a service station and sought refuge there at about 2.15 am (local time) but the passenger followed him and assaulted him, a police spokeswoman said.

Brogden then assaulted the driver and another man who was pumping petrol at the same time.

The Magistrate also hit out at binge drinking, saying "alcohol fueled violence in our community is a real scourge.

The court heard Brogden had a prior conviction for an alcohol related assault. He was remanded in custody.

Lynch said Brogden was appalled at his behaviour and has instructed him to seek a prison sentence. He said his client had insisted the matter be dealt with quickly, something the magistrate was "quite happy" to do.

Asked about character references and court reports, Lynch said Brogden "wanted none of that".

"He just wanted me to go into court and do it," Lynch said adding he felt as though he was "tap dancing in a minefield" but had to act as his client instructed.

Meanwhile, reacting on the latest incident Gautam Gupta, spokesman for Federation of Indian students in Australia, said it is time for the government to act on the hate crime laws.

"I am expecting the government to take the issue seriously and apply the full force of the new Hate Crimes Act," Gupta said.

The incident came amid a string of attacks on Indians in Australia, mostly in Melbourne, with 21-year-old student Nitin Garg, who was stabbed to death by unidentified assailants here, becoming the first victim of such assaults this year.

Another Indian youth, Ranjodh Singh, was killed in New South Wales last month.

Nearly 100 cases of attacks on Indians were reported in Australia in 2009 as against 17 incidents of assaults in 2008.

A partially-built gurdwara was also damaged in a blaze on Wednesday, and the police is probing the possibility of arsonists using Molotov cocktails in the incident.

Even as the incidents have strained relations between India and Australia, Canberra has maintained that not all cases of attacks on Indians have been racially-motivated. PTI