Australian court jails Indian for toddler''s death

Natasha Chaku

Melbourne, Feb 2 (PTI) Indian national GursewakDhillon, who accidentally knocked down three-year-old GurshanSingh Channa last year, was today jailed for five years by anAustralian court, which also ordered his deportation.

Victorian Supreme Court judge Justice Lex Lasrysentenced Dhillon and said he had put his own welfare beforethe toddler who could have survived.

The judge said 25-year-old Dhillon was concerned hewould be blamed for injuring the child and he would bedeported from Australia.

Last March, Dhillon accidentally knocked the head ofGurshan as he opened the front door of a home he shared withthe child''s parents in Melbourne''s north. He then panicked,placed the child in the boot of his car and drove away beforedumping the body in long grass several kilometres away.

"To have spent some hours with the child in your carand to have paid no regard to the welfare of the child asopposed to concern for yourself makes this a very seriousoffence," the judge said.

Dhillon said he panicked but Justice Lasry said he didnot accept he thought Gurshan might be dead when he placed himin the boot and drove off.

Dhillon dumped the body at Oakland Junction and it wasspotted by a passing truck driver later that same day.

"The tragedy of this case is that but for your conductthe death of the child, was in all likelihood, avoidable," theJudge said.

Dhillon had pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court to onecount of manslaughter by criminal negligence.

The judge set a maximum term of five years.

During the case, the court heard Dhillon held the handof an investigating policeman, looked into his eyes, confessedto his actions and wept.

Dhillon cried as he told Detective Ron Iddles what hadhappened to the toddler during his police interrogation.

Later, he told him "I''m a very bad human."

The court heard Dhillon acted out of fear, panic,naivety and stupidity when he placed the unconscious boy inthe boot of his car, then dumped his body in long grass, notknowing if he was dead or alive.

Dhillon planned to take Gurshan to hospital, butinstead placed the toddler in the boot of his car and drovearound in a panic for two hours.

He passed a hospital on his journey, but failed toseek medical attention, fearing he would be blamed for harmingthe toddler and deported.

Medical evidence showed Dhillon''s death could not havebeen caused by being hit by the front door and he may havesuffered heat stroke when temperatures in the car boot soaredto 40 C. Dhillon initially denied he was involved in thedisappearance.

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