An Australian teenager was sentenced to 13 years of imprisonment on Thursday for murdering an Indian student who was returning home from work in Melbourne in 2010. He is one of the youngest in Victoria to have been sentenced for murder.

The 17-year-old teenager fatally stabbed 21-year-old Nitin Garg in Melbourne in an attempt to steal his mobile phone.

The murder made international headlines, straining bilateral ties between India and Australia. One of the most high-profile cases among a string of such similar assaults on Indian students between 2009 and 2010, this incident sparked vehement outrage and thousands of Indian students boycotted Australia in response to Garg’s murder.


Photo Credit: Reuters. A poster of Nitin Garg of India is displayed on the side of a police information van near the park where he was stabbed in Melbourne Jan. 7, 2010. Accounting graduate Garg, 21, originally from the state of Punjab in northern India, was stabbed to death on Jan. 2 night on his way to a job at a fast food outlet in Melbourne.

Fearing these vicious attacks to be racially motivated, the number of students enrolling into Australian universities has dropped drastically.

Such incidents have adversely affected the nation and its multi-billion-dollar international students sector. The international student’s enrollment rate decreased to 9.4 percent in 2010.

The Victorian Supreme Court sentenced the Melbourne teenager to 13 years in jail for Garg's murder. He must serve eight years before being eligible for parole. Judge Paul Coghlan said the murder took place “in less than a minute” while Garg was walking down to his house in Melbourne from work.

Although it was a very serious crime, it was committed spontaneously, Coghlan said, adding that JLE didn’t intend to kill Garg.

The material supports the proposition that this behavior was out of character,” he said.

As per court orders, the real identity of the convicted murderer is kept confidential and he is referred to as “JLE.”

The judge, however, found the case difficult. “In circumstances such as these there are just no winners,” he said.

Justice Coghlan said that it wasn't a racist attack. Garg was an innocent and “random” victim and was attacked merely because he happened to be there in the park.

The incident occurred in January 2010 when Garg walked past Cruikshank Park in Yarraville where the boys were already present. One of the boys liked Garg’s cell phone and provoked JLE to steal it.

In self defence Garg grabbed JLE when he tried to steal and in return the boy stabbed him. Garg later died in the hospital.

The accused was 15 years old when the incident happened and has already served 18 months in jail.