A jury has retired to consider its verdict in the trial of a Lynn shopkeeper accused of sexually assaulting two young girls in his store.
Baskaran Ramalingam, 49, of Kings Avenue, Lynn, faces two charges of attacking girls aged under 13 on dates between July 1 and August 31 last year. He denies the claims.
Recorder Guy Ayers summed up the evidence at Lynn Crown Court this morning. The jury of six women and six men retired to consider its verdicts at around lunchtime.
The jury has already heard both the alleged victims set out how they were inappropriately touched by Ramalingam.
One of them claimed he had put his arm around her before touching her inappropriately.
The other said Ramalingam had put his hands over her eyes before assaulting her.
Giving evidence in his own defence yesterday, Ramalingam, who is originally from Sri Lanka, admitted that he had covered the eyes of one of the girls.
But he insisted he had done so as an act of play, rather than for any other, more sinister, motive.
He said such behaviour was considered “normal” in his culture, telling the jury of six women and six men that he only became aware of the issues it created in this country after his arrest in August 2014.
Under questioning from defence barrister Stephen Bailey, he said he would touch children by tapping them on the shoulders, but insisted that he was not sexually attracted to young girls.
He also claimed that the complainants were among a group who had caused problems at his shop in South Lynn, which meant he had been forced to observe their actions on CCTV systems, rather than serve other customers.
The court was told that the issues included occasions when he had allowed them to leave the shop with goods, such as Pot Noodles, which they were unable to fully pay for, on the understanding that they would pay the balance at a later time.
He claimed that the debts were not repaid, although that was disputed by the prosecution.
But, during cross-examination, prosecuting barrister William Carter questioned whether that alone would make him a target for such allegations.
He asked: “Are you suggesting these girls would come to court to lie about you because of an argument over Pot Noodles?”
Ramalingam answered: “Maybe.”
But Mr Carter continued: “The reason these girls have accused you is because what they’re saying is the truth, isn’t it?”
Ramalingam replied: “I haven’t done anything that is alleged.”
The court earlier heard that no evidence of any inappropriate conduct by Ramalingam had been recorded on CCTV footage taken within the shop and subsequently examined by the police.
The trial continues.