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Indian man pleads guilty to manslaughter of toddler

Indian national Gursewak Dhillon, accused in the death of three-year-old Gurshan Singh Channa, today pleaded guilty before an Australian court, which heard that the accused acted out of "fear" and "stupidity" after accidentally knocking down the toddler.

world Updated: Dec 16, 2010 10:18 IST

Indian national Gursewak Dhillon, accused in the death of three-year-old Gurshan Singh Channa, on Thursday pleaded guilty before an Australian court, which heard that the accused acted out of "fear" and "stupidity" after accidentally knocking down the toddler.

25-year-old Gursewak Dhillon, who was living with the toddler and his parents, broke down and told the truth as he appeared before the Victorian Supreme Court.

The toddler went missing on March 4 this year when his mother was taking shower at their Lalor home. His body was found by a council worker near Melbourne Airport, six hours after he disappeared.

Dhillon pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Channa, whose body was found dumped in long grass on a roadside on March 4 this year. The incident had sent shock waves across India.

He confessed to knocking the three-year-old unconscious with the front door.

During the pre-sentence hearing on Thursday, media reports qouted prosecutor Gavin Silbert as saying that Dhillon feared deportation following the incident.

In an act of fear and panic, Dhillon placed Gurshan in the boot of his car and drove around for two hours without seeking medical attention, passing the Northern Hospital on his journey, the Supreme Court was told.

After the hearing, Dhillon was remanded in custody until February 2, 2011 when he will be sentenced by Justice Lex Lasry.

Defence barrister Chris Winneke told the court that Dhillon had acted out of "fear, panic, naivety and stupidity" which may well have caused Gurshan's death.

"It's true that the death of Gurshan Channa is tragic. It was a death that need not have occurred and would not have occurred if not for the conduct of the prisoner," he said.

Winneke said there was an element of self preservation about Dhillon's actions, adding there was no excuse for his "grossly stupid decision" to place the child in the boot where temperatures could have soared to 40 degrees.

He said Dhillon did not know whether Gurshan was dead or alive when he dumped him.

Medical evidence showed Dhillon's death could not have been caused by being hit by the front door.

Dhillon later told police "I am a very bad human," the court was told.

In their victim impact statement, Gurshan's parents, who have returned to live in India, described their constant pain and anguish from losing their child.

They said they could not conceive another child due to the severe stress over his death.

"I've lost a piece of myself," they wrote.