Jailed security guard assaulted girl, 3, before berating her mum
A young girl kidnapped and indecently assaulted by a Sydney shopping centre security guard has been described as "remarkably resilient" and courageous for reporting the crimes almost immediately.
The then-three-year-old was taken by Mohammad Hassan Al Bayati from the DFO Homebush playground, down a fire exit and to an unmonitored area a week before Christmas in 2016.
After a NSW District Court jury found Al Bayati exposed his penis and touched the girl's underwear during 11 minutes away from surveillance cameras, Judge John Pickering on Tuesday jailed him for four-and-a-half years.
He will spend a minimum of two years and six months behind bars for the kidnapping with intent to obtain sexual gratification, act of indecency and indecent assault.
Al Bayati had responded to a report of an unattended and distressed girl at the centre's playground when he took the girl by the hand and walked her towards the fire exit.
The guard, who still denies the crimes, later returned her to the playground and berated the waiting mother.
Police only became involved after the girl, who cannot be named as she is a child victim, told her father later that day Al Bayati showed her his "needle" and "tried to kiss my bum bum".
Judge Pickering, who described the footage of the girl and guard walking down the fire exit as haunting, said the girl showed "remarkable resilience through her courage" to describe the incident to her parents, police and the court.
"It's quite remarkable because I think of how many three-year-olds would be able to articulate what happened to her," the judge said.
"(She) did her best to explain what happened but again it is an enormous ask on a three-year-old to outline precisely what happened."
Judge Pickering sympathised with the girl's parents, who earlier told the court of mental health issues stemming from the incident, and said the mother undoubtedly regrets leaving the girl and her older sister in the playground to do her Christmas shopping.
But he said mothers should be entitled to leave their child in a shopping centre play area without the expectation the centre's guard would cause harm.
By the time Al Bayati arrived at the playground, the girl was no longer distressed and was playing happily on the slide.
Among his explanations for taking the girl was the belief her mum was in the toy shop and taking a route via the fire exit was the shortest path there.
Judge Pickering said that claim was "unusual in the extreme" but warned it was pointless trying to think logically about why someone would take a happy child down a fire exit away from public view.
"People who commit these kinds of acts process way outside the normal thought processes and there is no point trying to make sense of an act of this nature," he said.
"The gall of the offender to lecture the mother about the dangers and risks of leaving her in the play area, when he ended up being the greatest risk, is one of the most curious parts in this matter."
Al Bayati will be eligible for parole in mid-2021.