A high-flying tech executive who ejaculated on young women during a spate of public masturbation offences spanning years has walked free with a slap on the wrist.
In a shock sentence that Victoria Police has already flagged for appeal, Magistrate Tara Hartnett on Tuesday not only released Muhammad Khan, but refused to register him as a sex offender.
Khan, 40, had pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates Court to three counts of sexual assault and one count of indecent assault against total strangers.
Muhammad Khan, 40, pleaded guilty in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Thursday to three counts of sexual touching and one count of indecent assault
One of his young victims had been at Melbourne’s Brunswick Festival in 2017 when she thought ‘lemon sorbet’ and been accidentally split on her.
She had been watching a busker with a baby strapped to her back playing the violin when the father of two – including a five-year-old daughter – ejaculated over her.
In a chilling victim impact statement, the brave young woman told Ms Hartnett how the sickening attack took place in broad daylight at a family event.
‘It was while watching this mother and child perform that I felt something wet on my backside,’ she said.
‘My first reaction was to assume someone around me had tripped over a spilt their lemon sorbet. The horrified looks from my friend and others around me was enough to help me realise it was not.’
Khan, who moved to Australia from Pakistan in 2009, had been free in the community to carry out his twisted desires on random females unabated.
Years earlier, at the St Kilda Festival in 2015, he ejaculated over another young woman.
She had been enjoying a band at the front of stage when Khan ruined her life with his uncontrollable urges.
The first accusation against Khan came from a young woman who attended the St Kilda Festival on February 8, 2015 (pictured)
The woman told Ms Harnett the devastating impact the attack had had on her life, which had led to drug abuse, isolation and suicide attempts.
‘The situation in itself was so abnormal and as though there wasn’t another person on the planet that could relate to me,’ she told the magistrate.
‘I began to feel increasingly isolated and uncomfortable in my own skin, as though I would never be clean again.’
WHAT IS THE SEX OFFENDERS REGISTER?
The register contains information about people registered sex offenders who have committed certain sex offences.
The purpose of the register is to:
MAKE offenders keep police informed of their whereabouts and their personal details for a specified period of time.
REDUCE the chances of a person re-offending.
HELP police investigate any future offences.
STOP registered sex offenders from volunteering or working in child-related areas.
In 2017, Khan struck again on an innocent woman who had boarded a city tram to the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
In that attack, the brazen offender touched his victim before ejaculating on her too.
It was behaviour that would ultimately lead to Khan’s arrest in May last year – some five years after his reign of terror began.
Khan had been nabbed by security at the Carlton Club in Melbourne’s CBD on October 18, 2019 after another terrifying attack on a female stranger.
In that attack, which was captured on CCTV, Khan could be seen touching his victim’s buttocks and dragging his finger up her legs.
The IT executive, who up until he was fired last week had worked for insurance and financial services company AB Phillips on $120,000 a year, agreed to hand over his DNA to police despite denying the attack.
His grubby calling card was linked to his previous attacks thanks to the brave women who had all reported his offending to police and handed over their soiled clothes for forensic testing.
It was the only thing that helped nab Khan after a public call-out to police provided no new leads.
In sentencing Khan to a two-year community corrections order with 250 hours of community work, the magistrate declared the community interest had been well served.
Police released this sketch of Khan after the 2015 sexual assault. He remained free in the community to offend in vile ways for years to come. It was his grubby calling card that would bring him down
‘The community expects that the court will denounce this conduct,’ Ms Hartnett said.
She paid particular note to the sentencing principal of ‘general deterrence’.
‘That is: sending a message to the community that if a person engages in this type of conduct there will be significant consequences,’ she said.
Khan had provided no reason for his ‘despicable’ behaviour.
He told a forensic psychiatrist he had felt such intense arousal he just had to ‘act on it’ there and then where he stood.
The doctor would later judge Khan to be a low-to-moderate risk of offending again.
‘This offending was bold and it was brazen. You were not known to anyone of them and you ejaculated on three of them,’ Ms Hartnett told Khan, who tuned in with his wife via videolink.
‘It was despicable conduct by you and purely for your own gratification … there is no excuse for your behaviour nor has one been put by your counsel. The community expects the court will denounce this conduct.’
Khan’s barrister Amelia Beech explained her client had come to Australia with his family from Pakistan in 2009.
A brother to four older sisters, he had been ‘pampered and indulged’ as a child.
Magistrate Tara Hartnett came to the Bar in 2003 and was appointed a magistrate in 2018 with more than 20 years experience specialising in criminal law
Khan barrister’s Amelia Beech told court he had come to Australia with his family from Pakistan in 2009
Despite his offending, his wife – whom he met and married in Pakistan – had stood by him, describing him as ‘a proud man of high moral standards and decency’.
The court heard Khan had no prior criminal history and had pleaded guilty to the crimes, thus expressing some degree of remorse.
They were all mitigating factors Ms Hartnett took into account in delivering her sentence.
Ms Hartnett told the court she had the discretion to keep Khan off the sex offenders registry.
‘Your offending triggers consideration of registration under that Act … This court is not mandated to make a registration order in this case. That is, the court has discretion,’ Ms Hartnett said.
‘I am satisfied that the lengthy period of the community corrections order, the engagement in treatment while on that order addresses risk appropriately combined with your lack of prior history.’
Police had asked Ms Hartnett to jail Khan immediately and indicated it would seek to appeal her decision.