Only one member of the teenage gang that brutally bashed up an Indian student and blinded him in one eye was on Wednesday given a suspended jail term with community work, while the others escaped custodial sentences.
Handing down the sentence, County court Judge Susan Cohen said the accused, Majang Ngor, had worked hard since the incident to distance himself from a bad crowd and to reform himself, the Herald Sun newspaper reported.
Judge Cohen imposed an eight-month jail term suspended for 15 months and a community based-order with 40 hours of work for Ngor (20), saying the community would benefit most from his rehabilitation.
She said it was to the credit of Ngor, a Sudanese refugee, that he finished Year 12, found a stable job and stopped binge-drinking with other teenagers. Ngor came to Australia in 2005 and had to learn English.
Judge Cohen added that violence around railway stations was a major concern for the community.
It was also cited that Ngor — who pleaded guilty to recklessly causing serious injury, intentionally causing injury, robbery and attempted robbery — did not cause the worst injuries but had helped those who did.
“For the rest to join in was both cowardly and senseless and reflected a pack reaction,” Judge Cohen said, adding that the matter was “less serious” than if weapons had been used.
She said that sending Ngor to prison for the four years as urged by the prosecution would give him an unjust sentence compared with the co-offenders who played more serious roles.
The others, all aged under 18 at the time, were recently sentenced in the Children's Court and given nine-month supervision orders, which is being appealed by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The court heard the Indian student had walked his friend to Sunshine train station to meet the friend's wife as she arrived home from work in March 2008.
As they approached, a member of Ngor's group, aged 17, demanded a dollar before hitting the student in the face. Others joined in as the victim was kicked and punched while lying helpless on the ground.
Someone rifled through the victim's pockets before they turned on his friend, who had come to his aid. The friend was also punched and kicked to the ground.
The student suffered a fractured eye socket, broken nose and an injured right eye that will never recover its sight.
His friend was knocked unconscious and suffered a bloodied nose and minor injuries, and his phone and wallet were stolen. The incident was captured on CCTV and the police tracked down Ngor almost a year later. He told them that one member of the group had suggested they go “hustling” after drinking at a party. The court heard that the youth did not instigate the attack.