A tourist who asked women on a beach to take selfie photos with him and then indecently assaulted them says he is sorry for what he did.
One of the victims fled as Jawahar Singh shouted, “I love you” after he tried to kiss her and grab her bottom when she agreed to be photographed with him.
The woman was collecting rubbish at Nelson’s Tāhunanui Beach beach but ended up hiding in nearby bushes after running from Singh.
She was one of three complainants who were at the beach when the assaults happened on September 28, September 30 and October 1 this year.
In the Nelson District Court on Friday, Singh admitted three charges of indecently assaulting a female over 16 and one charge of doing an indecent act.
The 67-year-old was supported in court by a family member and sat quietly with his head hung low, and an interpreter beside him in the dock.
Singh had been due to return home to India last month but was delayed until the court process had been completed.
He had voluntarily taken on community work as a show of his remorse, ahead of his appearance in court.
Defence lawyer Tony Bamford said Singh intended to seek counselling for issues he had been grappling with recently.
He had come to Nelson to visit a family member, the court heard.
According to the police summary of facts, all three victims had been approached by Singh and allowed him to take the selfie photos before being assaulted.
The woman collecting rubbish on October 1 said he had offered to help her and then asked for the photo.
Singh then put his arms around her as he tried to get his phone out.
The woman told police she pushed him away, before allowing him to take the photo at which point Singh tried to kiss her, grabbed her buttock and said, “I love you”.
She walked away quickly and hid, but saw him again later at which point he motioned to her for a hug, rubbed his crotch and said, “Come and kiss me, kiss, kiss, kiss - just one kiss”.
He told police he had not touched the woman and had been on the beach to pick up rubbish.
Prior to this, on September 28, Singh approached a woman walking her dog on the same beach.
He asked her how to “get back”, and when the woman asked where, he requested a selfie photo, put his arm around her shoulders and then tried to touch her bottom.
On September 30, Singh approached a woman sitting on a log at the beach and asked if he could sit next to her, before asking if he could take a selfie.
The woman agreed before Singh put his cell phone away. He then grabbed her thigh and slid his hand towards her groin.
As the woman tried to leave, Singh attempted to hug her and asked for a kiss before she got away.
Judge Jo Rielly said she would talk more about the impact on the victims and Singh’s response to his behaviour at sentencing on December 18.
“In the meantime, I hope that you pleading guilty will help the victims to recover from what happened,” Judge Rielly said.
“I accept you are truly sorry for what you have done.”
She had read his letters of apology and noted his offer to pay emotional harm reparation to the victims.
The judge also noted the “significant number” of voluntary community work hours he had completed at a local organisation, and that he intended to do more before he was sentenced.
“That is because you will be leaving New Zealand soon after sentencing,” Judge Rielly said.
Singh’s tourist visa was due to expire around the time of sentencing.
Tracy Neal is a Nelson-based Open Justice reporter at NZME. She was previously RNZ’s regional reporter in Nelson-Marlborough and has covered general news, including court and local government for the Nelson Mail.
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