Friday, January 29, 2010

Man jailed over attack on Indian cabbie

Man jailed over attack on Indian cabbie

January 15, 2010


A 48-year-old man has been jailed after racially abusing an Indian taxi driver during a drunken outburst northwest of Melbourne.

Paul John Brogden, of Navigators near Ballarat, was sentenced to three months' jail on Friday, about 12 hours after he slammed back 24 cans of beer and launched a tirade of abuse against the 24-year-old Indian driver.

"Members of the public have been terrorised by your conduct," Magistrate Michelle Hodgson told Brogden in a Ballarat court on Friday.

While the man had drunk excessively and taken Valium tablets before the outburst, she said there was no excuse for his behaviour.

"The courts and the community will not tolerate violence to people performing jobs in the community - vulnerable jobs."

The court heard the taxi driver picked Brogden and his brother up in Ballarat at about 2am (AEDT) on Friday and they asked to be driven to nearby Navigators.

But Brogden became abusive and asked the driver to take a faster route.

He then told the driver he would kill him when he was dropped off before racially vilifying him.

The driver pressed an emergency button in his cab and pulled into a petrol station.

"He went inside the service station, the defendant followed him inside and verbally abused him," police prosecutor Leading Senior Constable Clint Prebble told the court.

Brogden then assaulted a bystander at the petrol station before returning to the taxi.

He then smashed the taxi's windscreen with his arm, ripped out a GPS device and damaged a radio.

The taxi driver was uninjured in the attack and Brogden was arrested at the scene.

Brogden pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful assault, one count of making threats to kill and one count of intentionally damaging property.

Defence lawyer Philip Lynch said his client could not remember much of the incident or making any racial slurs.

"How he was standing up, I have no idea," Mr Lynch said.

"He said, `I am not going to remember all what occurred and whatever happens to me happens to me'.

"He is appalled about his behaviour."

Magistrate Hodgson said she would have imposed a five-month jail term if Brogden had not pleaded guilty.

He was also ordered to pay $1,520 in damages.

The incident was the latest in a spate of violent attacks on Indians in Victoria, including the stabbing murder of Nitin Garg in Melbourne earlier this month.

Gautam Gupta, spokesman for the Federation of Indian students in Australia, called on the Victorian government to act on newly established hate crimes legislation.

"I am expecting the government to take the issue seriously and apply the full force of the new Hate Crimes Act," Mr Gupta told AAP.

"It is time to test the act and see how much meat is in it."

Mr Gupta said both the driver and the passenger should undergo counselling.

"We need him (the passenger) to be a productive member of society," he said. "We need to shift his mindset instead of leaving him on the fringes."

© 2010 AAP