A man who sexually assaulted four women in public places across Melbourne had difficulty adjusting to social interactions with women when he moved to Australia, his lawyer has told a court.
Muhammad Khan either rubbed against or grabbed the women from behind at street festivals in St Kilda and Brunswick, on a Melbourne tram and in a city nightclub between February 2015 and October 2019.
Three of the women discovered semen on their clothing, according to a police summary.
Khan, 40, pleaded guilty to four charges of indecent and sexual assault and his lawyer told Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday the IT worker grew up in Pakistan and found social adjustments difficult from when he migrated to Australia in 2009 when in his 20s.
Defence counsel Amelia Beech said Khan grew up with three sisters but did not interact with other women until he went to university in his homeland, and that was “only fleeting contact”.
“Life in Australia was very different to life in Pakistan,” Ms Beech said.
“His relationship with women was very difficult … he found it overwhelming and had some difficulty adjusting.”
But Ms Beech said Khan had a strong relationship with his wife, and it was his partner who had seen his remorse and regret for his crimes and urged him to get help. The couple have two young children.
Khan was now “dedicated to bettering himself”, his lawyer said, although she conceded the Keilor man lacked insight into the reasons behind his offending and the impact of his crimes on his victims.
Khan was sacked from his IT position at a TAFE college when he was charged and now works for an insurance firm. But Ms Beech called for him to be spared a conviction over concerns for his future employment, and asked magistrate Tara Hartnett to impose a fine.
Ms Hartnett will have Khan assessed for a community correction order but adjourned his sentence to allow police to seek victim impact statements from the women.
“Reading the women’s statements to police, their reaction was that it was a disgusting situation,” a police prosecutor told the court of Khan’s crimes.
Khan, who watched the hearing on a video link with his camera turned off, is on bail and will be sentenced next week.
If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732)
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