Aus court hears teenager's role in attacks against Indians

The county court heard that when his two friends suggested "punji-hunting" Indians in Melbourne's western suburbs late in 2009, it was he who drove the car that was used to carry seven thugs from one suburb to another.

The newspaper report said that the court last week heard that six vulnerable Indian men were targeted in the violence that spanned December 7 to December 11. They were bashed, punched and attacked with metal bars and an imitation handgun.|

Petrusic "admitted knowing what his co-accused were doing and that it was more likely than not that the victims would be seriously assaulted," prosecutor Damien Hannan said.
"He acknowledged that his actions were wrong but stated that he could not say no to 'free things'."

The teenager, who has no prior convictions, expressed remorse when arrested on the final night of the crime spree, December 11, telling police "I'm sorry... I was wrong".
He pleaded guilty to two charges of robbery, two of attempted armed robbery and one each of armed robbery and attempted robbery.

Petrusic will be sentenced next month.After Petrusic was bailed, following five days in custody, he was ordered to participate in Youth Justice, a program designed to divert offenders aged between 18 and 20 from the adult criminal justice system.
In Friday's plea hearing, Youth Justice case worker Trish Alexander testified that Petrusic was concerned about his inability to say no to people.

"It was hard for him to say no. He feared retaliation from them [his co-offenders]," Alexander said, adding that "He [later] blamed himself because he didn't say no."
Forensic psychiatrist Aaron Cunningham told the court much of Petrusic's acquiescence to his peers was borne out of a subjugation of his own needs for those of others, while Salvation Army chaplain Victor Hayer added that for Petrusic, it was easier to say yes than no "because no involved too many repercussions".

All three believe he will be at minimal risk of re-offending in a similar manner.
Petrusic's lawyer said a non-custodial sentence would be most appropriate for Petrusic, now 19 - given that the primary sentencing consideration for young offenders is their rehabilitationProsecutor Hannan contended that Petrusic should be sentenced to serve time in a Youth Justice Centre because it would mark the seriousness of the offending and would act as a deterrent to others.

Judge Liz Gaynor said the positive steps Petrusic had taken should be encouraged as part of rehabilitation, which would in turn prevent his further offending.

She reminded the teenager that his offences were serious and ordered he be assessed for a community-based order, warning though that that was not necessarily the sentence he would receive.

Last December, Judge Gaynor sentenced Julius Medina to serve three years in youth detention and Peter Salapura to a 12-month suspended jail term and 624 hours of unpaid community work for their part in the crime spree.

The two had failed to take advantage of Youth Justice programs available, while Petrusic had made "extraordinary efforts" to change his behaviour, she said.

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