An Indian tourist accused of kissing a toddler twice on the lips at an aquarium told the boy’s parents he was ‘sorry’ immediately afterwards.
Nikhil Bhatia, 29, allegedly kissed a two-year-old boy who was being pushed in a pram by his parents at the Sea Life Aquarium in Darling Harbour, Sydney at 5pm on Sunday.
Bhatia had travelled to Australia from India just a week earlier.
He appeared at Central Local Court via audio link from Surry Hills police station on Monday, news.com.au reported.
The court heard that Bhatia allegedly knelt down in front of the boy after touching his head and his hands.
‘He then lowered himself down and using the arms of the child drew himself in before kissing him twice on the lips,’ a police prosecutor said.
Bhatia was pushed away from the child by his father, the court heard.
‘Once the child’s parents intervened the accused reacted by saying ”I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry”,’ the police prosecutor said.
Bhatia blamed the kiss on a ‘cultural difference’ – but the police prosecutor argued he received ‘gratification’.
Bhatia has been charged with intentionally sexually touching a child under 10 years of age. He faces 16 years in prison, but plans to plead not guilty.
He remains in custody due to Magistrate Robert Williams finding him to be a flight risk.
Bhatia’s lawyer Sharon Ramsden said his offending wasn’t at the extreme end of the scale as he did not touch the child’s genitals.
He will return to court on February 4.