A Sri Lankan worker at Sydney airport customs professed his love for a barista, grabbed her by her clothes and tried to kiss her through their face masks, a court has found.
Antony Appathurai, 73, will remain on a community corrections order until December 2022 after being convicted last week for sexual touching the younger woman in August.
He clasped her hands and then kissed her, causing her to freeze in shock.
“It was clear he did not have permission to behave the way he was.” Downing Centre Local Court magistrate Theo Tsavdaridis said.
Appathurai, who pleaded guilty at an early stage after negotiations with police, had moved freely in and out of the cafe with a swipe pass.
He ingratiated himself with her by initially asking for a hug, then embracing her.
She felt pressured by him to provide her phone number, leading Appathurai to profess his love for her over text message.
The woman, uncomfortable with the advances, said she had a boyfriend, only for Appathurai to tell her the boyfriend didn’t “need to know”, the court was told.
Appathurai had a clean record and provided a letter of remorse to the court, his lawyer said.
However, a treating psychologist noted he had limited insight into the event after the Cherrybrook man said he didn’t know what came over him when kissing the woman.
“That probably does not fully comprehend the nature of the offences, that was not merely touching but those predatory acts and intimacy – even if it be through the masks they were wearing,” the magistrate said.
Appathurai also pleaded guilty to – and was convicted of – entering inclosed lands without a lawful excuse, a charge often applied for offences at airports.
Before emigrating to Australia, Appathurai played first-class cricket for the Sri Lankan national team when it was known by the colonial name Ceylon.