Man preys on girl over internet

Avishkar Keratram outside the Bundaberg Courthouse. Photo: Mike Knott/NewsMail
Avishkar Keratram outside the Bundaberg Courthouse. Photo: Mike Knott/NewsMail Mike Knott BUNCRT

A 27-YEAR-OLD man who made sexual advances to a police officer posing as a 14-year-old girl has pleaded guilty to grooming a child on the internet.

Avishkar Keratram, who is South African and in Australia as a part of his wife's working visa, also pleaded guilty to unlawful stalking when he appeared in Bundaberg Magistrates Court yesterday.

The stalking charges related to incidents in which he followed a 15-year-old girl twice as she walked to school.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Barry Stevens said on June 18 last year, an officer assumed the identity of a 14-year-old girl and “friended” Keratram on Facebook.

Sgt Stevens said on June 26 and 27, the officer had two online conversations with Keratram, during which he repeatedly made it clear he was 14.

“(Keratram) talked about the size of his penis,” Sgt Stevens said.

“He also asked if she was still a ‘v', referring to whether she was a virgin.”

He said Keratram went into other explicit sexual detail several times during the online conversations.

But the web chats were not the only contact the defendant had with a teenager.

Sgt Stevens said a 15-year-old girl was walking on George Street on her way to school about 7.30am on February 22 last year, when Keratram waved to her.

The court heard the girl ignored him and kept walking, but Keratram came up alongside her and started talking to her.

Sgt Stevens said the girl continued to ignore Keratram but he still followed her.

“She was too scared to tell him to go away,” Sgt Stevens said.

The court was told the same girl was walking to school when a silver four-wheel drive pulled up beside her on March 10.

Sgt Stevens said the girl starting running when she saw the car.

But when the girl slowed down the four-wheel drive stopped and Keratram got out and asked: “Do you remember me?”

Sgt Stevens said the teenager was later shown CCTV footage that identified Keratram as the man who followed her.

The court was told the Department of Immigration was yet to make a decision on Keratram's visa status.

Defence barrister Timothy Ryan said Keratram was unemployed and had been struggling to find work since arriving in February 2010.

Mr Ryan said the grooming case had two distinguishing factors.

“There is an absence of pornographic images and the intention to meet with the child,” he said.

Keratram will be sentenced at 2pm today.

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