A Sydney shopping centre security guard who kidnapped and indecently assaulted a three-year-old girl has been jailed for more than two years.
Mohammad Hassan Al Bayati, 30, touched the young girl's underwear and exposed himself during the 11 minutes they were in a stairwell — away from surveillance cameras — at DFO Homebush in December 2016.
NSW District Court Judge John Pickering today said the girl had been "quite remarkable" to report the crimes, and jailed the guard for four-and-a-half years with a minimum of two-and-a-half years.
Responding to a report the girl was unattended and distressed at the centre's playground, Al Bayati took her by the hand to the stairwell just before 1.30pm.
Eleven minutes later, after receiving sexual gratification, he walked her back to the playground where her seven-year-old sister was crying because she couldn't find her younger sibling.
The mother, having returned from shopping, was also waiting there and was quickly berated by Al Bayati.
"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," Judge Pickering said.
"Any mother should be entitled to leave their children in a busy shopping centre and not have any belief or expectation that someone who is actually there to look after the interests of people shopping in the centre will then create harm in themselves."
The girl had been left in the DFO play area with her seven-year-old sister while their mother went shopping for Christmas presents.
Judge Pickering said there was "not point trying to make sense" of Al Bayati's crime, describing it as an "incredibly risky and extraordinary move".
"As is the case so often in matters of this nature, trying to think logically about why someone would try to behave in such a way to a three-year-old is pointless," he said.
Al Bayati was found guilty of the crime in May. A jury from a previous trial had been unable to reach a verdict.
Earlier this year, the Crown told the court Al Bayati's consistent denial of any wrongdoing should be focused on.
Police gave Al Bayati multiple opportunities to explain why he was in the stairwell with the child but never gave a straight answer, claiming he was helping her look for her mum.
The former security guard's barrister earlier told the court the DNA found on the three-year-old suggested any touching done by Al Bayati had not lasted long.
In a victim impact statement read to the court earlier this month, the three-year-old's mother spoke of the devastating impact the ordeal had had on her child.
The mum said their peaceful family life had been "destroyed" by Al Bayati's behaviour and their daughter was still having nightmares almost three years after it.
"This tragedy squeezed life, positive outlook, trust and happiness out of us in a way that is hard to describe," the mother told Sydney's Downing Centre.
"We are going through regular counselling and hoping to regain our strength."
The mum said the family were working to teach their daughter to trust men and that "not every man in uniform is a predator".
In sentencing today, Judge Pickering also took into account Al Bayati arriving to Australia by boat as an Iraqi refugee a decade ago.
The court heard Al Bayati had gone through a number of traumatic incidents as a child including seeing someone be beheaded, almost dying on his way to Australia due to their sinking boat and being kidnapped by terrorists.
Despite that, Al Bayati was sentenced and will be eligible for parole in mid-2021.