The case of a young Auckland man who had sex with a
14-year-old Dunedin girl he met through an online dating site
highlighted the dangers of teenagers communicating through
the internet, a Dunedin District Court judge said yesterday.
The facts of the case would reflect the worst concerns of
many parents, Judge Stephen Coyle said when sentencing
22-year-old Nikhil Batra for having unlawful sexual
connection with the teenager on July 21.
The undisputed facts from the Crown summary were that Batra
met the girl through an internet dating site for people 18
years and older, Judge Coyle said.
Although she was 14, the girl misrepresented her age as 18.
She and Batra communicated over time and developed a
relationship and an attraction.
In July, Batra travelled to Dunedin but, when he met the
girl, he realised she did not look 18.
When he suggested she might have been 16, she told him she
was only 14.
Knowing that, the defendant nevertheless hired a motel room,
invited the girl to stay and had sex with her, the judge
Her parents found her at the motel and called the police.
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
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
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
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.
In the pre-sentence report, Batra said if he had a sister in
the same situation he could imagine the pain it would cause
his whole family.
''If you understand that now, it begs the question why you
did not at the time when you found out she was 14,'' the
judge told Batra.
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
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.