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Australian who attacked Indian cabbie jailed for 6 years

November 13, 2009 12:14 IST

A Melbourne court has sentenced an Australian to over six years in jail for attacking an Indian taxi driver with a knife -- an incident that led to hundreds of Indian cabbies blocking the city streets last year.

Justice Elizabeth Curtain sentenced Parrish Chales to six-and-a-half years in jail, saying the stabbing was 'random, unprovoked and frenzied' and the fact that the 45-year-old attacker had a hunting knife hidden in his pants showed a degree of 'premeditation'.

The judge said the unprovoked and unexpected assault on 23-year-old Jalvinder Singh was terrifying and left Singh with mental and physical injuries that would change his life, media reports said on Friday.

Charles stabbed Singh five times from behind with a hunting knife. The bleeding victim, who had crawled out of his cab, was found in the gutter hours later by a passing truck driver in April last year. Charles drove off in the cab but crashed it nearby.

The crime shocked the city and led to a mass blockade of Flinders and Swanston streets in central Melbourne by taxi drivers for 22 hours. The Victorian government had then agreed to install safety screens in cabs for drivers who wanted them, and made the pre-payment of fares mandatory at night.

Justice Curtain said that the attacker, who was diagnosed to be HIV positive in 1986, was depressed and unhappy about his treatment at the Alfred Hospital. Charles claimed to be suffering from blackouts and said he could remember little of the incident.

However, according to a series of reports from psychiatrists and psychologists to the Supreme Court, there was no evidence that Charles was psychotic or suffering from a mental illness that would explain his behaviour at the time of the attack. Charles had previously pleaded guilty to one count of intentionally causing serious injury and one count of theft of a taxi.

Justice Curtain said people like taxi drivers, who work alone at night, need to be protected from violent attacks.

"While he was stabbing me, he was holding me from behind, around the neck. I was in shock. I felt like I was fighting for my life," Singh had earlier said in a statement.

Natasha Chaku In Melbourne
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