No jail for Melb man for racist calls

A man who pleaded guilty to making racist phone calls to a Melbourne rabbi has been spared jail.

A man has avoided jail for abusing a Melbourne rabbi in a series of racially-motivated phone calls he tried to explain as a prank.

Neil Luke Erikson, 29, phoned Rabbi Dovid Gutnick of Melbourne City Synagogue on three occasions, telling him "Give me the money Jew or else I will get you" and abusing him for his faith.

He also spoke of circumcisions, blood money and Jewish sidelocks and told Rabbi Gutnick he knew his location and was coming to get him.

Magistrate Donna Bakos said she had no doubt Erikson's calls were motivated by prejudice and found he had little remorse for his crime.

But she ignored prosecution pleas to jail Erikson, sentencing him instead to psychological assessment and treatment in the community.

"There is no other explanation except that they were motivated by prejudice, if not hatred, toward the victim because of his race," she told Erikson.

"It is degrading. It is hurtful. It is not to be tolerated."

Erikson, of Heidelberg West, pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates Court to stalking Rabbi Gutnick over the calls made in December 2012 and January 2013.

Erikson told a forensic psychologist after his arrest he had many "Aussie Aryan friends" whom he found more entertaining than his other mates.

He also said the calls were made as a practical joke.

Police prosecutor Paul Rudd called for Erikson to be jailed for the unprovoked attack on not only Rabbi Gutnick but the Jewish faith.

"It has an effect on the greater Jewish community," he said.

But Chester Metcalfe, legal representative Erikson, said his client could only be punished for his criminal actions, and they did not warrant a jail term.

"He can't be punished if he happens to hold particular opinions or beliefs," he said.

Erikson will be subject to supervision for the duration of his 12-month community correction order, during which he must complete 150 hours of unpaid work.

2 min read
Published 12 February 2014 at 4:45pm
Source: AAP