By JR on Friday, April 27, 2012
Africans are a big problem in Melbourne. The episode below is only one of many. Rather than feel gratitude towards the country that gave them refuge, many of them seem to feel only contempt for the rest of the community
A MEMBER of a gang of Sudanese youth who attacked 13 victims during a three-week robbery rampage has been jailed for almost six years after a judge said the courts could not tolerate unprovoked violence against soft targets on Melbourne's streets.
The assaults and robberies were "violent, it was unforgivable, it was brazen, it was frightening," County Court Judge Michael Tinney said today in sentencing Ring Chol, now 19, to a maximum five years and 10 months and a minimum term of three years and four months.
Some of the victims, attacked after leaving western suburban train stations or walking alone in St Albans in mid afternoon, had left Australia after the bashings, the court heard.
Judge Tinney said Chol's group, which included offenders aged 13 to 16, targeted vulnerable people, some of whom were bashed, threatened with a knife or bottle, or laughed at during attacks - despite offering to hand over possessions during the 22-day spree in June 2011.
"Just take my wallet, take my phone, take my bag, just leave me alone, I will die," one victim told his attackers after trying to flee. "Yet he was punched repeatedly by you and at least two others" and lost consciousness during the assault which lasted 10 to 15 minutes, Judge Tinney said. "These were cowardly and often brutal attacks," the judge said.
"Many people in this community no longer regard public transport as a safe option. "This court must send a clear and loud message."
Judge Tinney said hardly a day goes by when soft targets are not subjected to robbery and assault in Melbourne and unprovoked violence must no longer be tolerated by the courts, if it ever was.
In one incident Chol stood on the bumper of a taxi and threatened to smash a rock into the windscreen unless the driver gave over property, and in another a victim was followed from Keilor Plains train station to his home where his house window was smashed and three vehicles damaged.
While bailed for the original offences, Chol breached curfew and has since been charged with two other assaults committed in central Melbourne for which he is yet to face court, Judge Tinney said.
He said Chol suffered post traumatic stress from the horrors he witnessed growing up in Sudan and what was described as "three years of hell" being subjected to racially-motivated violence in Egypt before coming to Australia as a 14-year-old.
But Judge Tinney said while some sentence reduction was called for due to his earlier trauma and his youth, the nature and gravity of the offending should be condemned.
Chol pleaded guilty to two counts of armed robbery, six robberies, two counts of recklessly causing serious injury, four counts of criminal damage and one count of attempted robbery.
Two child offenders are yet to be dealt with in the Childrens' Court and other members of Chol's group have not been identified, the court heard.