Ahead of the first death anniversary of Indian student Nitin Garg, an Australian court on Thursday sentenced a teenager who witnessed the stabbing incident to 18 months probation.
The 16-year-old boy, who has not been named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty before the Supreme Court to being an accessory to the murder of 21-year-old Garg in Cruickshank Park on January 2, according to The Age.
The court heard Garg was on his way to work at a nearby eatery 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.
When police interviewed the boy days after Garg's murder, he did not say anything about the incident.
However, he later confessed he and his co-accused were in the park on the night of the stabbing.
His co-accused has already been charged with murder and is to face a committal hearing in February.
Phone records showed Garg tried to phone for help immediately after he was stabbed but the accused yelled at him to “drop the phone”.
In April, 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.
Justice Mr. 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.