The family of a three-year-old girl say she is struggling to recover and will ‘never be the same’ after a naughty security guard exposed her penis during a shopping spree Christmas in Sydney.
Mohammad Hassan Al Bayati, 33, was sentenced in Sydney’s Downing Center District Court on Friday afternoon, ending the long-running case that once caught the attention of former Prime Minister Scott Morrison .
The Iraqi man was earlier this year found guilty by a jury of taking/detaining a person for an advantage and of committing an act of decency on a victim under the age of 10.
The court heard he led the girl down a stairwell to the Direct Factory Outlet in Homebush after she was found in the center’s play area with a sibling in December 2016.
CCTV shown to the jury showed Al Bayati taking the girl by the hand and leading her down a stairwell.
He and the child disappeared from view of CCTV cameras for 11 minutes when he exposed himself to her.
“He took and detained the victim for his sexual gratification,” Judge Christopher Robinson said in a ruling Friday afternoon.
“When you carefully review all the evidence, it’s clear to me that he had a sexual interest in the victim.
“I am aware of the age of the victim as well as that of the attacker, who would have been trusted to find his mother.”
The court was told that after the incident the girl was returned to her mother who had arrived at the playground after finishing her Christmas shopping.
Al Bayati has faced three trials for these allegations.
Following his second trial, he was in 2019 jailed for up to 4½ years after a jury found him guilty of indecent assault, committing an act of indecency and taking a child to gain an advantage.
He was jailed by NSW District Court Judge John Pickering with a 2½-year non-release period.
However, earlier this year, Al Bayati had his convictions overturned by the state’s highest court, the Court of Criminal Appeals.
The Court of Criminal Appeal found that his conviction for indecent assault was not supported by evidence and ordered his acquittal.
He also ordered that his convictions on the other two lesser counts be set aside and that he be retried on those charges.
He was tried earlier this year and pleaded not guilty; however, a jury took just two hours to return a guilty verdict on one count of taking/detaining a person for gain and performing an act of decency on a victim under the age of 10 years.
The court heard he exposed his penis to the girl, who then told her parents that Al Bayati was “touching his needle”.
Crown prosecutor John Sfinas admitted it could not be established whether Al Bayati was masturbating or whether his penis was erect or flaccid at the time.
Judge Robinson said Al Bayati prioritized “his own sexual interests above and above” his duty to return the girl to her family.
In a victim impact statement, the victim’s parents said their “peaceful family life had been destroyed and would never be the same”.
“It will take time, most likely years, to recover from this,” Judge Robinson said.
The court heard Al Bayati had a tormented life before coming to Australia by boat as a refugee from Iraq, which included seeing a headless corpse.
However, Judge Robinson said he struggled to find a connection between a “deprived background” and his crimes.
“It’s important to keep in mind that the young child, at least initially, felt somewhat comfortable with the offender escorting her to where the second count had been. committed behind closed doors.”
Following his conviction, Al Bayati risks languishing in immigration detention indefinitely.
Following Al Bayati’s first conviction in 2019, the Australian government canceled his permanent protection visa.
Three years ago, then Prime Minister Scott Morrison threatened to deport Al Bayati after his conviction.
‘It doesn’t matter if you have a permanent protection visa or whatever, it’s a sickening crime and that person has no place in this country,’ Mr Morrison said at the time.
However, according to Al Bayati’s lawyer, Morgan Hunter, the government’s position is that it would not send him back to Iraq due to the risk of persecution.
His lawyers are also doubtful that he will obtain a visa from a third country due to the sexual nature of his offence.
And unless the Australian government decides to reverse the cancellation of his visa, he would languish in immigration detention indefinitely.
The court heard that he had already been detained for three years, seven months and 16 days.
Judge Robinson on Friday sentenced Al Bayati to four years in prison with a period without parole of two years and three months.
This means he was first eligible for release in April 2021.