Indian national Gursewak Dhillon, who accidentally knocked down three year old Gurshan Singh Channa last year, was on Wednesday jailed for five years by an Australian court, which also ordered his deportation.
Victorian Supreme Court judge Justice Lex Lasry sentenced Dhillon and said he had put his own welfare before the toddler who could have survived. The judge said 25 year old Dhillon was concerned he would be blamed for injuring the child and he would be deported from Australia.
Last March, Dhillon accidentally knocked the head of Gurshan as he opened the front door of a home he shared with the child's parents in Melbourne's north. He then panicked, placed the child in the boot of his car and drove away before dumping the body in long grass several kilometres away.
"To have spent some hours with the child in your car and to have paid no regard to the welfare of the child as opposed to concern for yourself makes this a very serious offence," the judge said. Dhillon said he panicked but Justice Lasry said he did not accept he thought Gurshan might be dead when he placed him in the boot and drove off.
Dhillon dumped the body at Oakland Junction and it was spotted by a passing truck driver later that same day. "The tragedy of this case is that but for your conduct the death of the child, was in all likelihood, avoidable," the Judge said.
Dhillon had pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court to one count of manslaughter by criminal negligence. The judge set a maximum term of five years.
During the case, the court heard Dhillon held the hand of an investigating policeman, looked into his eyes, confessed to his actions and wept. Dhillon cried as he told Detective Ron Iddles what had happened 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 in the boot of his car, then dumped his body in long grass, not knowing if he was dead or alive. Dhillon planned to take Gurshan to hospital, but instead placed the toddler in the boot of his car and drove around in a panic for two hours. He passed a hospital on his journey, but failed to seek medical attention, fearing he would be blamed for harming the toddler and deported.
Medical evidence showed Dhillon's death could not have been caused by being hit by the front door and he may have suffered heat stroke when temperatures in the car boot soared to 40 C. Dhillon initially denied he was involved in the disappearance.