FOUR young Warrnambool men have been placed on good behaviour bonds after being involved in up to 30 targeted attacks on Asian meat workers.
Jeremy Stacey, 20, of Carramar Crescent, Warrnambool, pleaded guilty to offences during August and had to participate with three co-offenders in a group conference where they met their victims.
Stacey, and the co-offenders who cannot be named because they were aged under 18 years old at the time of the offending, were on Tuesday all placed on 12-month good behaviour bonds.
Conditions of the bonds included that they provide letters of apology to the victims, which they have, and each pay $781 compensation for the damage they caused.
Stacey and his co-offenders pleaded guilty to a range of charges relating to causing damage by throwing eggs and rocks at Asian workers and their homes.
Most of the offending happened between April and August last year when members of a group went for drives with Stacey in his car.
In the up to 30 attacks, there were 17 homes, mostly in west Warrnambool, which were egged or rocked and several were targeted several times.
Magistrate Peter Mellas said on Tuesday it was initially feared the attacks were wholly racially motivated by the "four idiots" but that did not now seem to be the case.
He said the victims were initially identified because of their race but were then focused on because they were soft targets seen as unlikely to report the attacks to police.
The magistrate said that since the plea hearings in August the community had voiced outrage through the local media and the case had an enormous impact.
He said victims had explained they feared for their safety and the level of acceptance in the community.
Many of the victims have already returned to their overseas homes angry, resentful and with a negative attitude of Warrnambool and that there was an issue about how this region treated guests.
Mr Mellas said it was clear that the group conferencing had been a confronting process which allowed the victim a say and for the offenders a chance to consider the impact of their actions.
One of the offenders recalled a look of fear on one of the victim's faces during an attack.
Mr Mellas apologised to the victims of behalf of the community, saying the actions of the offenders were not a reflection of the community's thinking.
He said the overseas workers were brought in to do jobs that many in this community would simply not do.
The magistrate said the offending was a clear reflection of the youths' immaturity and a pack mentality had taken over which became addictive and contributed to the repeat offending.
Mr Mellas said it was unlikely the youths would offend in a similar way or even again in their lives.