Batra immediately acknowledged what had happened, but he explained he loved the girl and age did not matter. Counsel Anne Stevens said that showed how naive the defendant was. The fact English was not his first language might have created some difficulties for his understanding of the situation, she said. Crown counsel Richard Smith said it was accepted there had been no plan to coerce the girl and there was no element of grooming. Judge Coyle told Batra the particular law existed because Parliament recognised that those under the age of 16 were vulnerable and not able to give informed consent because of their youth.
The girl's age should have been a signal to him that, no matter how willing she was, he should not have engaged in sexual activity with her.
Editorial: We must listen to our youth
In the pre-sentence report, Batra said that if he had a sister in the same situation he could imagine the pain it would cause his whole family. The incident had profoundly affected the girl, who had developed a tendency to self-harm. But she remained of the view the defendant's love for her was genuine. Batra also maintained that what happened was centred on deep and true emotions. Taking into account there had been only one incident of sex and that Batra was remorseful and said he had never wanted to hurt anyone, Judge Coyle sentenced him to 10 months' home detention at an Auckland address.
As special conditions of the sentence and for six months after its expiry, Batra must attend courses, treatment and programmes for issues relating to the offending and must complete a specified relevant programme SAFE as directed.
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