Oz man jailed for 18 years for beating Indian origin doc with bat

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Melbourne, Nov 18 (ANI): Three Australian men who beat Indian origin doctor Mukesh Haikerwal during an armed robbery in September last year were sentenced to a combined term of 44 years in prison.

Dr Haikerwal was walking through a park in the bayside suburb of Williamstown on September 27 last year when he was set upon and bashed by the men.

The judge said the court needed to send a message over the seven-week armed robbery spree that took place in August and September last year, which included bashing and robbing 33 victims as well as Dr Haikerwal.

Victorian County Court Judge Joe Gullaci today jailed Alfer Azzopardi, 20, of Coolaroo, who delivered the most serious blow to the doctor with a baseball bat, for 18-and-a-half years with a minimum of 13-and-a-half years.

Co-accused Michael Baltatzis, 20, of Glenroy, who together with Azzopardi took part in 23-armed robberies over a two-month period, was jailed for 16-and-a-half years and must serve 10-and-a-half years before being eligible for parole.

A third man, Sean Gabriel, 20, of Hoppers Crossing, was jailed for nine years and nine months with a minimum of six years, The Australian reports.

Meanwhile, Dr Haikerwal said that he takes no comfort in the lengthy jail terms handed to his attackers.

"I take no comfort that my assailants have been sentenced to jail terms. The community has to be protected and feel safe and free to go about their daily lives in safety and security," he said.

Dr Haikerwal spent a month in hospital following the attack and had to learn to walk again.

He said he still speaks slower than he used to and will forever bear a scar on his head. (ANI)

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