Australian tourist’s son ‘glad’ Indian killers convicted

August 12th, 2008 - 11:10 am ICT by IANS  

By Neena Bhandari
Sydney, Aug 12 (IANS) The son of Australian tourist Dawn Emelie Griggs, who was raped and murdered in India four years ago, is “glad” his mother’s killers have been convicted and hopes the appeal process doesn’t take as long as the trial. “The family is glad that things have been resolved. Whether it’s a death sentence or a life sentence, at the moment we are glad that there has been a resolution,” Griggs’ son, Adam Spinner, told the Australian Associated Press (AAP) Tuesday.

Spinner was informed Monday night that Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Kumar had sentenced the two taxi drivers, Ashish Kumar, 30, and Jyotish Prasad, 28, “to be hanged till death”.

The taxi drivers had pleaded not guilty to Griggs’ rape and murder, but were convicted. They have lodged an appeal.

“I hope that the appeal process will be a lot quicker than the trial process. Given the past track record of this matter, it could be years before the appeal is heard or resolved,” Spinner, who lives in New South Wales, told AAP.

Meanwhile, the close-knit community of Byron Bay town, located 759 km north of Sydney and 140 south of Brisbane, has found some relief in the news of Griggs’ assailants’ conviction.

“Justice has now been done and we hope the Indian government will ensure the safety of travellers and people like Dawn, who were doing good work in India. Dawn was a very warm and generous person and her loss has been very sad for the community,” Byron Bay Shire Council’s Mayor Jan Barham, who had personally known Dawn, told IANS.

Like thousands of foreigners arriving in India in search of spiritual knowledge, the 59-year-old teacher, writer and learning consultant had arrived at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) from Hong Kong in March 2004 to conduct a meditation course.

She had arranged for a prepaid taxi to drive her from the airport to a suburban ashram. Instead, she was taken to a deserted field near the airport and murdered by the drivers. An autopsy found Griggs had been gagged, strangled and stabbed. Further medical evidence revealed she was also raped.

Her body was found in a deserted field near the airport. A money clip containing cash worth Australian $8,000 ($7,000), her belongings, including a copy of her first book “Spirit of Learning”, were also found nearby.

Describing foreign tourists as “the easiest prey”, the court said: “It must not be forgotten that the victim was a foreigner, who was totally dependent on the hospitality provided to her by our people. She was totally defenceless and unprotected.”

As many as 121,800 Australians travelled to India in 2007 - a sharp increase from only 50,000 visiting in 2003, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

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