A 32-year-old Indian man in Australia, accused of stalking two women, has escaped conviction after a court considered that he had been wrongly influenced by Bollywood movies.
The Hobart magistrate took notice of the cultural background of the accused, Sandesh Baliga, who had said Bollywood films encouraged his stalking behaviour.
Baliga stalked one woman for 18 months and another for four months in 2012 and 2013.
He maintained that Hindi movies contributed to his belief that a woman would eventually fall in love with a man if he pursued her enough.
The court heard Baliga texted, called and approached the women excessively, and had begun referring to himself as their boyfriend, according to an ABC report today.
Magistrate Michael Hill agreed Baliga’s cultural background helped explain why he did not appreciate the seriousness of his actions.
Balinga’s lawyer Greg Barns told the court it was “quite normal behaviour” for Indian men to follow women in a similar way and Baliga did not realise his actions could be classed as criminal.
The magistrate adjourned the complaint without conviction for five years on the condition Baliga was of good behaviour over that period.
He said the charges were serious but “after anxious consideration” he believed recording a conviction would affect Baliga’s job prospects.
He added Baliga was remorseful and there was a low risk of re-offending, and his guilty plea had spared the women the stress of giving evidence.
A character witness told the court Baliga acknowledged alcohol had contributed to his action and had stopped drinking.
Baliga did not object to restraint orders being imposed. He had migrated from India three years ago as an accounting student.