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Indian toddler Gurshan could have died of heat exhaustion

world Updated: May 17, 2010 12:43 IST

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Over two months after toddler Gurshan Singh Channa's death shook the Indian community here, Victorian police today cited heat exhaustion as the probable cause, as the boy was driven around in a dangerously high temperatured car boot for nearly three hours.

The accused, Gursewak Dhillon, had confessed post his arrest that he had disposed off the body of the child after carrying him around in the boot of his car, but had denied that he deliberately caused harm to him.

Forensic tests carried out on a seized Commodore sedan showed the temperature in the boot might have reached 50 degrees while Gurshan was being driven around the city on March 4, 'The Age' said in a report today.

Dhillon said the toddler was accidentally knocked down unconscious when he ran into the door at the house in David Street, Lalor.

A post-mortem had found slight bruises consistent with a minor knock to the head but failed to find a cause of death.

Dhillon said he placed the boy in the boot and drove off with the intention of driving to a surgery or hospital.

He said he had panicked, fearing authorities would find out that he had entered Australia under a false name and would face deportation.

Dhillon said he drove around aimlessly for at least three hours trying to decide what to do.

It is said that a passing woman motorist helped the accused in buying petrol from a service station as he ran out of fuel.

He left the car with the child still in the boot while the woman reportedly gave Dhillon lift to a service station.

The woman is yet to come forward.

Detectives have now obtained closed circuit security footage that confirms the accused was at a north-western suburban service station making a purchase.

Dhillon finally dumped the little boy by the roadside near Tullamarine airport at Oaklands Junction, more than 20 kilometres from his home.

The body was found nearly seven hours after the three-year-old was reported missing.

Dhillon has been charged with manslaughter by criminal negligence and is in custody until June 29.

The boy's parents, Harjit Singh and Harpreet Kaur Channa, have returned to India.