Melbourne: An Australian teenage boy was on Thursday jailed for 13 years by a court here for murdering Indian student Nitin Garg, a heinous crime that followed a slew of racist attacks on community members and sparked a diplomatic row with New Delhi.

The teenager, whose identity was not revealed as he is a minor, had pleaded guilty in April to one count of murder and one count of attempted armed robbery in the killing of 21-year-old Garg on January 2, 2010.

Garg, who had migrated from Punjab, was fatally stabbed in the abdomen in Cruickshank Park here while he was on his way to his part-time job at a nearby restaurant. He managed to stagger to his workplace before succumbing to his wounds in hospital.

Justice Paul Coghlan of the Victoria state Supreme Court sentenced the teenager to 13 years in jail, with a non-parole period of eight years.

Coghlan said the killing was awful and tragic.

He, however, said it was a crime of opportunity rather than race.

"The community abhors the use of knives because of the consequences such as this," the judge said.

He found the task of sentencing a very difficult one, saying that "in circumstances such as these there are just no winners."

The justice said one able young man was dead, while the teenager's life had changed forever.

"Although this was a very serious crime, it was committed spontaneously," he said, adding, "it should be noted, however, that you (the convict) chose to arm yourself and did a great deal to avoid apprehension for your crime."

The convict was 15 and a half when he stabbed Garg, an accounts graduate.

The judge said that for "reasons never explained" the teenager, who attacked Garg, had left his house that day with a folding knife in his pocket.

He said that the teenager along with some other boys was in the park when Garg walked past on his way to work at the Yarraville Hungry Jack's restaurant on the corner of Geelong and Somerville roads and was talking on his phone.

The teen's friend said "that bloke's phone looks nice" so the boy took his long-sleeve jumper off and wrapped it over his face saying he was going to "roll" Garg. He held the knife up to Garg and demanded his phone.

Coghlan said that Garg grabbed the boy but the boy stabbed him in the abdomen. Garg ran to his work where he collapsed and died in the Royal Melbourne Hospital in the early hours of the following morning.

Coghlan said that after the attack the boy went home and watched a movie and found out the following day that Garg had died. He said, however, that it had taken some time for the
boy to speak to police.

The judge noted that the boy's friend made a statement to police last May implicating both of them in the crime.

Coghlan said he accepted the boy was remorseful and had no intention to kill when he went to the park.

He said Garg was "an innocent and random victim" and it was his presence in the park, not his race, that led to him being attacked.

Coghlan said that he accepted that the crime had been committed spontaneously and that the boy had had no previous inclination for violence.

Garg's stabbing was condemned by Indian government, which termed the killing as a "heinous crime on humanity."

The killing also led to random weapons searches by Victorian police at railway stations.
   
The murder, which followed a series of attacks on Indians, made international headlines and damaged Australia's image as a safe place for foreign students.

(Agencies)