Ahead of the first death anniversary of Indian student, Nitin Garg, an Australian court sentenced an unidentified teenager to 18 months probation on Thursday. The minor reportedly was a witness and accesory to the stabbing incident that strained ties between the two countries in January this year.
The 16 year old boy, who has not been named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court to being an accessory to the murder of 21 year old Garg in Cruickshank Park on January 2,2010 according to 'The Age'. The court was told that Garg was on his way to work at a nearby Hungry Jack's outlet when the two boys, both aged 15 at the time, noticed him walking past while speaking on his mobile phone. The prosecution said the accused told his friend, "that bloke's phone looks nice", which prompted him to allegedly approach Garg and stab him in the abdomen.
Days after Garg's murder, police interviewed the boy who did not say anything about the incident. However, later during another interview on April 26, the accused changed his story and told the police that he and his co-accused were in the Yarraville park on the night of the stabbing. His co-accused, also a 16-year-old boy, has already been charged with murder and is due to face a committal hearing in February next year.
Phone records showed Garg tried to ring triple-0 for help immediately after he was stabbed but the accused yelled at him to "drop the phone" because he was scared he was calling the police. In April this year, the boy told a friend's father "he was going to tell him something he had never told anyone before" and admitted to being present during Garg's stabbing. The court heard that the man contacted police with the information.
The boy then agreed to wear a listening device to record a conversation with his co-accused in which the alleged murderer incriminated himself. The prosecution described the boy's co-operation as significant and said that a non-custodial sentence was an option for the court. Justice Paul Coghlan said the crime was serious but the boy's undertaking to give evidence against his co-accused meant the probation sentence was warranted. Coghlan said if the teenager had not pleaded guilty and not agreed to assist the prosecution of his co-accused, the 16-year-old would have spent two years in a youth justice centre.