An Indian tourist kissed a two-year-old on the lips at a Sydney tourist attraction before repeatedly telling the boy’s parents “I’m sorry”, a court has heard.
Nikhil Bhatia, 29, appeared in Central Local Court on Monday charged with intentionally sexually touching a child under 10 years following the alleged incident at the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium on Sunday.
Bhatia flagged his intention to plead not guilty and was refused bail by magistrate Robert Williams.
Mr Williams told the court Bhatia was likely facing a custodial sentence if found guilty.
The charge carries a maximum jail term of 16 years and the magistrate described the prosecution’s case as strong.
The court heard there was CCTV footage as well as evidence from both of the boy’s parents.
Detectives say Bhatia stood over the boy’s pram and touched him on the head before twice kissing him on the lips.
The parents then pushed him away. He was arrested soon after by police.
Bhatia – who arrived in the country seven days earlier on a tourist visa and was due to leave on February 22 – allegedly told the parents: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
Police will allege that Bhatia attempted to explain his behaviour by saying it was due to a “cultural difference”.
He appeared on Monday via video link from Surry Hills Police Station wearing a blue shirt, black jeans and glasses. He’s due to reappear in court on February 4.
His lawyer, Sharon Ramsden, applied for bail arguing that his client’s actions were not necessarily sexual in nature.
“When assessing the seriousness, I don’t seek to downplay it,” Ms Ramsden said.
“The conduct was spontaneous and in a public place. It was on the lower end of the spectrum – certainly below middle of the range.”
Police successfully opposed Bhatia’s bail application on the grounds he was a flight risk and a danger of reoffending.