Shopping centre guard sentenced over 'haunting' stairwell assault of three year old

A Sydney judge has described the actions of a shopping centre security guard, who indecently assaulted a young girl in a locked stairwell, as extremely audacious and haunting before jailing him for at least two-and-a-half years.

The three-year-old girl was lost inside DFO Homebush a week before Christmas 2016 when Mohammad Hassan Al Bayati, 30, took her by the hand and led her to a fire exit.

He had been responding to a report the girl was unattended and distressed at the centre’s playground.

After receiving sexual gratification, he returned the girl to the playground and berated the waiting mother.

Torment

A jury found Al Bayati exposed his genitals and touched the girl’s underwear during the 11 minutes they spent in the stairwell.

The family earlier this month spoke of the torment the incident has caused, with both parents telling the court they had gone through bouts of depression.

“Our peaceful family life was destroyed and will never be the same again,” the girl’s mother said in a statement to Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court.

“We are so proud she was able to tell the police, however it was a dramatic event for her.”

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Al Bayati has always denied the crimes, but a jury found him guilty of kidnapping, indecency and indecent assault charges.

His DNA had been found on the girls underway.

NSW District Court Judge John Pickering on Tuesday said the girl had been “quite remarkable” to report the crimes, and jailed the guard for four-and-a-half years with a non-parole period of two-and-a-half years.

The judge considered Al Bayati’s brutal upbringing in Iraq and the 10 months he spent on Christmas Island and an asylum seeker.

‘Extremely audacious’

During sentencing, Pickering told the court “any mother should be entitled to leave their children in a shopping centre and have the expectation someone who was there to look after people” would not harm them.

Pickering described Al Bayati’s actions as extremely audacious and said they could never fully be understood because the people who commit such offences have “a thought process way outside” the rest of society.

CCTV played in court showed the girl playing happily on the slides and not seeming concerned about her mother not being present.

Haunting

What happened next was found to be undoubtedly haunting to the jury “as it was haunting to me”, Pickering said.

skĀ© Security SAVER SALE vision showed Al Bayati lead the girl by the hand to an area of the shopping centre where cameras were nowhere in sight.

“The audacity to commit an act of sexual gratification (was) … an incredibly risky and extraordinary move,” Pickering told the court.

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