A security guard could not give an explanation to detectives as to why he led a three-year-old girl from a Sydney shopping centre playground into a locked stairwell, police say.
Mohammad Hassan Al-Bayati appeared in Campbelltown Local Court on Thursday charged with committing an act of indecency towards the girl at the DFO Homebush shopping centre on Sunday.
The girl and her older sister had been dropped at a children’s playground while their mother did her shopping.
Police allege that about 30 minutes later Mr Al-Bayati, dressed in his centre security uniform of a white collared shirt, black pants and shoes, approached the girl in the playground.
He allegedly spoke with her for two minutes before he was spotted on CCTV footage holding her hand and guiding her away from the playground.
Cameras from inside DFO Homebush allegedly show Mr Al-Bayati then walked down one of the centre’s corridors and into a locked fire exit stairwell.
There were no cameras inside the stairwell, where Mr Al-Bayati and the girl remained for 11 minutes.
It is here police allege Mr Al-Bayati exposed himself to the girl and performed an indecent act in what prosecutors described as an “opportunistic attack”.
Mr Al-Bayati then returned the girl to her mother after the girl’s older sister raised the alarm with centre management that she had been missing.
It was only later that day that the girl told her father what had allegedly happened.
“The child made disclosures about an act of indecency and stated that she was ‘taken by a policeman’ who was going to take her to her mum,” police documents before the court state.
Mr Al-Bayati was arrested and charged on Wednesday where he gave an interview with police where he admitted that he did breach the centre protocol by finding a lost child and taking her down the secluded corridor.
But he denied allegations that he had performed an indecent act or exposed himself to the girl.
“The accused could not provide investigators with any explanations for the unaccounted 11 minutes inside the stairwell with the child,” police documents stated.
Dressed in a black T-shirt with a local gym’s logo on the front and grey sweat pants, Mr Al-Bayati sat silently on Thursday as he unsuccessfully applied for bail.
His solicitor told the court Mr Al-Bayati had no criminal record and was prepared to surrender his security licence so he could be released in time to spend Christmas with his fiancee and her family.
Magistrate Ian Gray denied Mr Al-Bayati bail adding there was “some strength” in the police case and if found guilty the security worker was facing a substantial prison sentence.
Mr Al-Bayati will appear in court again in February.