SYDNEY — Indigenous leaders Wednesday criticized a suspended sentence given to a white man for a fatal hit-and-run accident that killed an 8-year-old Aboriginal boy in Australia.

SYDNEY — Indigenous leaders Wednesday criticized a suspended sentence given to a white man for a fatal hit-and-run accident that killed an 8-year-old Aboriginal boy in Australia.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner Mick Gooda said the 18-month suspended sentence and six-month home detention given to the 23-year-old driver was "hard to comprehend," national broadcaster ABC reported.


Matthew Alexander was found to be on methamphetamines when his vehicle collided with the boy who was riding a bicycle in November in Darwin. He then fled the scene without trying to help the badly injured victim, who died from head wounds.


Gooda said the sentence was light "compared to what happens to our people."


Indigenous Australians make up 86 percent of the adult prison population in the Northern Territory, according to 2013 figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.


The indigenous make up 3 percent of the national population, but more than 28 percent of the prison population, and that proportion is increasing.


"Our people are locked up more and more than anyone else up there," Gooda said.


The boy’s father, Michael Page, said the sentence amounted to "a slap on the wrist."


"I’m pretty sure a black fella would still be in jail," Page said.


The sentencing judge said Alexander was remorseful and was in a drug rehabilitation program.


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