"He continued to ask her to drink with him."
Restaurant owner Masum Khan, aged 51, of Cheltenham, has been convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage girl when she came to collect a takeaway for her family.
James Tucker, prosecuting, said that the restaurant owner first saw the 15-year-old when she entered his Curry Leaf restaurant in Cinderford on New Year’s Eve 2018.
She had spotted a friend waiting inside and entered to say hello.
Mr Tucker said: “We say that Mr Khan then formed an attraction towards the girl and asked her if she would like to join him for drinks in the restaurant.
“She declined, despite his repeated requests.”
During his evidence, Khan told Gloucester Crown Court:
“I saw the girl on New Year’s Eve in 2018 when she was beckoned in by customers as she was walking past on the pavement outside.
“I noticed what looked like a bottle of alcohol under her arm. I thought she looked a little drunk.
“When she came in I asked her if she would like a drink. It would have only been a soft drink as we no longer sell alcohol.
“We stopped selling alcohol following my return from a pilgrimage in August 2018.”
On January 6, 2019, the girl’s father ordered some food from the restaurant and gave his daughter the money to go and collect the meal.
Mr Tucker continued: “On arrival at the restaurant she gave her father’s name to Mr Khan.
“She was also asked for her name, and she duly obliged.
“Mr Khan then offered her a drink but she refused. He took out bottles of gin and other spirits which hadn’t been on display.
“He then took out a glass and poured some Malibu and topped it up with lemonade and encouraged her to drink it.
“He asked her how long she had been off on her school holidays – which confirmed that he knew she was underage. He continued to ask her to drink with him.
“The girl decided to go along with Mr Khan’s request and had a few sips of the drink he had poured.
“This played into Mr Khan’s hands as she had now done something she shouldn’t have done.
“He started to wave his fingers in circles in front of her eyes, at which point she began to get frightened.
“She was wearing a chunky jacket, but underneath she had a strappy top on.
“Mr Khan asked her if she was ticklish. At first, she didn’t understand the question but then he started to touch her bare skin.
“He is alleged to have moved his hands up her clothing and started to touch her breasts.”
“He pulled her jacket down and said to her he was going to give her an Indian massage.
“She continued to tell him no, but he gripped her shoulders and then put his hand down the front of her top and into her bra – his bare hand against her bare breast.”
In his own defence, Khan said he is of Bangladeshi origin and has been in the UK for the past 25 years. He had run the restaurant for the past 14 years.
The restaurant owner said he had known the girl since she was seven and her family were regular customers.
Being cross-examined about his actions on January 6, Khan said:
“I engaged in small talk with the girl while waiting for the food order to be prepared, during which I asked her about school and the Christmas holidays and poured her a soft drink.
“I mentioned to her that I saw her on New Year’s Eve and told her I thought she was a little drunk.
“In jest, I put a number of my fingers in front of her face and asked her how many I was holding up. I was joking around.
“She replied ‘I’m OK, I’m not drunk today’. I then asked her if she’d like a massage and she replied, ‘what’s that?’ so I and placed my hands over her shoulder.
“I didn’t think this was wrong, I was just being friendly.
“The massage demonstration was over her clothing and it lasted no longer than 10 seconds.
“I then tickled her on the waist, neither of these actions were not meant to be serious. She was laughing and giggling and didn’t tell me to stop.
“I do not know why she made these allegations up of me putting my hands down her top and squeezing her breasts as I treated her like my own daughter.
“The girl seemed happy when she left and when I asked her for a goodbye kiss she put her cheek forward and I kissed her to the side of her face.
“I readily opened the door as she left and spoke to her friend who was waiting outside with a dog.
“I first heard about the allegation when the police interviewed me. I felt really bad about this and embarrassed.
“I didn’t do the things the girl suggested. I admit I tickled her, but I was only messing around.
“I had no sexual intention in what I did. She didn’t show any signs of stress.
“I didn’t ask for her phone number. I am telling the truth.”
Despite denying the allegations, the restaurant owner was convicted of sexual touching.
He will be sentenced on September 15, 2021.