Melbourne, December 16: “Give me your phone, you black Indian, or I will kill you,” thus the Indian commuter was threatened.

But County Court judge Michael Bourke expressed sympathy for the racial offender and ordered Michael Smith, 28, to only serve a two-year community corrections order comprising 200 hours of unpaid work and drug and alcohol counselling, sparing Smith jail time.

Smith was on a Cranbourne-bound train after midnight in March last year when he tried to rob an Indian descent commuter at knife point. As Smith swung his knife and knocked the phone out of the commuter’s hand, the passenger instinctively backed away.

He then proceeded to racially abuse the commuter, calling him a ‘black Indian’.

The commuter told the Court that the incident had left him afraid to use his phone on the train and anxious about sitting near people.

Later as both got off at Cranbourne station, Smith threatened to kill the commuter if he reported the incident to the two protective services officers, PSO on-duty.

The commuter, however, alerted the officers who were spat on as they arrested Smith. The County Court heard in October, this year, that Smith spat on the PSO’s face and unleashed anothe racist tirade, yelling: “F— you, black c—.”

Smith, the father-of-two blamed it all on a bottle of vodka, pleading guilty to armed robbery and making a threat to kill, assaulting a PSO and resisting arrest.

He had drunk the bottle of vodka on learning that his father was seriously ill.

Smith pleaded low intellectual functioning, history of drug and alcohol abuse dating back to his teenage years and his mental-health problems that had contributed to the dysfunction in his life.

Judge Bourke said that Smith’s offending was serious, disruptive, frightening and dangerous. But, there was “room for legitimately felt sympathy,” because Smith had admitted responsibility early and was remorseful. He had also apologised to the PSOs.

Interestingly, Smith denied the racial offences and told police the passenger had actually racially abused him.

Although, Smith has prior convictions for violence, drugs and dishonesty offences and Judge Bourke admitted that he was not optimistic about Smith’s prospects for rehabilitation, however, the Judge believed that there was a public interest in focusing on his rehabilitation, aimed at supervision and reducing reoffending.

Ramakrishna VenuGopal

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