Richard Nile, Nguyen's defense attorney, said his client had been suffering from depression, suicidal thoughts and hearing voices. He said the man had broken the iPads in an attempt to get arrested and deported back to Vietnam.
"He has had a lonely and sad existence. He is homesick. He wants to go back to Vietnam. He has been told that will swing into action in prison, if that's what he asks for. He has no status in this country. He came in a lorry, four-and-a-half years ago," Nile told the court.
Nguyen, who is homeless, was given a six-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay a $23 victim surcharge.
Magistrates referred Nguyen to a refugee action center for help coordinating his return to Vietnam.