Monday, August 3, 2009

Teen charged with manslaughter of Chinese student escapes jail

Pictured: Aaron Toal leaves court.



"When we got off the bus, all the boys in my group were saying things to the Asian... The Asian man was walking away fast. All the boys were laughing. The boys had been looking for someone to scare all night." - a girl in the group responsible for the death of Yuxiong Han



"There was a group of us and we were getting off (a bus) at Blackburn Rd and we were following some Asian guy. Azza said to me, 'I'll give you $10 if you go punch him'. So I ran after the guy, but before I could punch him he was too far away. I took a swing but missed. The guy ran on to the road and then got hit by the car." - a 15 year old boy in the same group.


Yuxiong Han's parents had saved up $25,000 to send him to Australia to study mechanical engineering. The Chinese student, 21, had only been in Australia several months but had made many friends and had a job as a waiter. He had just finished a shift on July 7th 2008 and was riding the bus home. On the same bus was a group of teenagers aged 15-18, who got off the bus at the same stop in Forest Hill in Melbourne's East.

Han had done nothing to instigate the teenager's attempt to "roll" him. As he realised one of the young thugs was chasing him, he ran out onto the road to escape. He was struck by a car which carried him 20 metres. He died in hospital 11 days later of severe head injuries.

The 15 year old was sentenced last month to a 12-month youth attendance order, while Aaron Toal, now 19, was given a 2-year community-based order involving 500 hours of community work.

I'm not necessarily one of the law & order brigade who think everyone should be locked up and the key thrown away, but you've got to wonder about this. I doubt jail would do much to make Toal a worthy member of society, but you've gotta consider the deterrent aspects of sentencing too. Remember that just last week John Caratazzolo (ringleader of a gang who bashed and kicked another Chinese man to death) was given one of the lowest ever sentences for murder in Australian history.

The judge in Toal's case said he was confident that the attack was not racist in nature. I'm not sure whether that matters or not in terms of sentencing, but is he correct? The girl's statement that "the boys had been looking for someone to scare all night" seems to indicate that it was merely an opportunistic attack. But like the attacks on Indian students which were also deemed largely opportunistic, I think Han's Asianness increased the likelihood that they targeted him. Because when she also mentions that "when we got off the bus, all the boys in my group were saying things to the Asian", my racism-meter starts twitching. I dunno. Had Han been white, perhaps it would still have happened, maybe not. But East Asians and South Asians are perceived as nonthreatening targets for young thugs, no doubt.

Was Han walking in a "bad neighbourhood", for which many of the Indian students were blamed? Hardly. I once lived close to that area - my parents' place is no more than a kilometre away - and Forest Hill is the archetypal Melbourne middle-class suburb. These are not kids who are struggling with poverty - they merely have nothing better to do.

This is a telling example of the disturbing mentality that I see all the time amongst some young people. Yuxiong Han died not because he started a fight, not even because Toal and his friends wanted to rob him. They were just bored and looking for a thrill. Get a f***ing hobby you f***s.

3 comments:

  1. You'll pardon my french but what in the fuck is wrong with this fucking judge. 500 hours of community service is UTTER bullshit! Toal will thank the system for about a month, have a whinge, find some more mates, have laugh, maybe another whinge and then re-join society with a story to tell. His friends might turn emo and make an EP. Great work!

    A young and totally innocent man is DEAD because of these wankers! Chinese kids around the state and country and now probably thinking `oh great' now what the fuck do i do? Absolutely no justice!

    Reading this made me want to punch something BUT INSTEAD I'll back the appeal till the judiciary system gets off it's arse to pull his head out. Wake the fuck up. If you cant deal with this problem of a deteriated youth at a court level then get ready to see it spill onto the streets in a vicious cycle of hit and miss revenge.

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  2. Thanks Fearless. To be honest I have mixed feelings about this sentence. I agree that the message it sends is that you can take a life and get what seems like little more than a slap on the wrist. At the same time, it should be recognised that people who go to prison tend to come out more messed up than when they went in, and more likely to keep offending. That's why we need to be careful about this call for tougher sentencing, because it may inadvertently create more criminals as a result.

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