Man sexually assaulted teen moments after meeting

A SRI LANKAN refugee who sexually assaulted a teenage girl at Riverview Train Station said he thought the sexual contact had been consensual.

The 16-year-old girl had been waiting for the train when she was approached by 29-year-old Kandeepan Karalasingam and his friend.

Moments after he met the girl for the first time, Karalasingam kissed her, groped her and pulled her breast out of her clothing.

At Ipswich District Court this week, crown prosecutor Matt Le Grand said the encounter lasted about 20 minutes and took place at 3.50pm on October 7, 2013.

Mr Le Grand said the incident had been captured on security cameras at the train station.

He said the footage showed that Karalasingam's "persistent" sexual advances towards the girl were unwanted.

"People have the right to ride public transport without fear of being subjected to this kind of behaviour," Mr Le Grand said.

He said the girl had been distressed by the incident and that she was afraid she might encounter Karalasingam again.

Karalasingam pleaded guilty to sexual assault in company on the basis that he had an "honest but unreasonable" belief his conduct was consensual.

The court was told that when the Tamil-speaking man found out the girl's age, he stopped touching her.

Defence barrister Scott Neaves said Karalasingam spent a year in a maximum-security detention centre after he was arrested for the crime.

Mr Neaves said his client had significant mental health problems and had grown up in a harsh environment where he was subject to torture. Before the offence, Karalasingam had been living in Australia on a refugee visa for less than a year.

In light of his mental health issues and time already served in the detention centre, Judge Sarah Bradley placed Karalasingam on a $200 good behaviour bond for two years.

"If you commit another offence within that two-year period, you will either forfeit $200, be sent to jail for six months or be resentenced," she said.

His conviction was recorded.

Topics:  ipswich district court

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