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Indian sentenced to 5 years for toddler's death in Oz, parents unhappy

February 03, 2011 16:30 IST
Parents of an Indian toddler who was accidentally knocked down by a compatriot, have expressed unhappiness over the "mild" jail term given by an Australian court to their son's killer, who will serve a minimum of three years in prison.

Twenty-five-year-old Gursewak Dhillon, a taxi driver, was on Wednesday handed down a five-year jail term by the Victorian Supreme Court in Melbourne but he would be free by 2013, as he has already served 11 months of his sentence.

Dhillon, a housemate of Gurshan's parents, dumped three-year-old Gurshan Singh Channa's body after accidentally knocking him unconscious and driving him around in the boot of his car in March last year. The toddler's parents Harjit Singh Channa and Harpreet Kaur Channa, who are back in India, expressed sadness over the sentencing, saying that Dhillon,should have spent more years behind bars.

Vasan Srinivasan, president, Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria, who had a telephonic conversation with the couple, said they were "slightly relieved" after they were told that the accused would be deported back to India after his jail term is over. "The sentencing of Dhillon for the manslaughter of the toddler last year had put an end to what was a most unfortunate set of circumstances for the Channa family and the defendant," Srinivasan said.

It was unfortunate because the tragedy could have been avoided if Dhillon had not panicked in the circumstances that fateful day. If he had rushed the child to a doctor, may be the tragic loss of life could have been avoided, he added.

"Justice has been done and the defendant did display genuine remorse for his actions and sought to apologise to the deceased child's father and mother for actions and will serve a period in jail for his actions. Although the sentence may be viewed as mild by some, this entire event was created not by an individual's wanton malice but by an individual who did not think clearly when faced with a crisis involving a young child. If he had sought medical help or called an ambulance, may be matters would have been different," Srinivasan said.

Gurshan's parents had left Melbourne for their hometown Kotkapura in Punjab after his death on March 4 last year. Justice Lex Lasry told Dhillon that he had put his own welfare before that of the boy and that Gurshan might have lived, had he taken him to hospital.

Dhillon had been held on remand for 333 days and was expected to be free in early 2013. Justice Lasry said Dhillon told investigators he had opened the front door of the house he shared with Gurshan's parents in Melbourne and accidentally struck the toddler.
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