Shop worker fined for touching bare waist of customer, 13
A SHOP worker who inappropriately touched a 13-year-old girl who came into the store with her younger cousin has been fined £120.
Failed asylum seeker Satheeskumar Navaratnam also made a comment to the youngster about her stomach, which was exposed by her crop top.
The 31-year-old had been due to face a trial by jury charged with sexually assaulting both the girl and her relative, aged 11, at Premier Stores on Rodbourne Road.
But after Navaratnam, who had a Sri Lankan interpreter, pleaded guilty to a charge of common assault on the older child, prosecutors said they would not seek a trial.
It was accepted that although he touched the girl’s bare skin, he did not pinch her and it was not done with a sexual motivation.
The victim was wearing the top exposing her midriff on a hot Bank Holiday on May 6 last year when she went to the convenience store.
Tessa Hingston, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court: “She was wearing a crop top which exposed her naked belly. The defendant commented on her naked belly.
“It was touching of her bare skin on the side. The common assault was therefore not something that caused her any physical harm.
“It is aggravated by the fact she was a child. He was in the position of a person providing a service as a shopkeeper.”
She said the girl's dad told how the family were alarmed by his daughter’s behaviour in a statement three days after the incident.
“He said she had been bursting into tears and shutting herself in her bedroom. She was taken to school but sobbing uncontrollably,” she said.
“They were alarmed by it. She said she was touched by somebody really she didn’t know at all.”
Navaratnam, now living in Harrow, north London, pleaded guilty to one charge of common assault.
A second count and two of sexual assault were left to lie on file.
Marcus Davey, defending, said: “The guilty plea is entered on the basis that he touched the elder of the two girls without her consent.
“He was reckless as to whether he had consent. He should have known from her age and demeanour in the shop he would not have her consent.
“It was not pinching, it is clear from the video it must have been around the waist area.
“The Crown accept it was not sexual.”
He said the assault was in the lowest range for the offence as it caused no physical harm to the victim.
Mr Davey said his client was currently appealing his failed asylum claim and as such cannot work or claim benefits.
He is living on the generosity of his brother, who has a wife and one-year-old child and works in Tesco in north London.
Passing sentence, Judge Douglas Field said: “Not only were you in charge of the shop but you had a responsibility towards your customers.
“You touched her on her bare midriff. I accept that it was a fleeting touch which did not cause her any physical injury.
“It is clear however that it did cause her considerable emotional distress which lasted for days."
As well as a fine of £120 he also ordered Navaratnam to pay a £20 victim surcharge.