Man accused of sexually touching baby was 'misunderstood'

A NIMBIN man accused of intentionally sexually touching an infant has been remanded in custody.

Rodney James Laurie, 51, appeared in the dock of Lismore Local Court on Tuesday.

He has been charged with common assault and intentionally sexually touching a child under 10 over the alleged incident, which took place in the heart of Nimbin.

His solicitor, Eddie Lloyd, has lodged not guilty pleas to both charges and also foreshadowed an application for the matter to be dealt with under the Mental Health Act.

Ms Lloyd made a bail application on his behalf, saying a Nimbin woman had agreed to offer supervision if Mr Laurie was granted bail to her address.

Ms Lloyd said her client was known in the community for "inappropriate behaviour" but had no sexual intentions.

"I understand he was asking after the welfare of the infant at the time," Ms Lloyd said.

Police have alleged Mr Laurie approached a woman who was holding her infant daughter and held the mother by the arm as he tried to put his "dirty fingers" inside the girl's mouth.

He then allegedly put his hand inside the front of the girl's nappy.

But Ms Lloyd said the allegations "could have been a misinterpretation of his actions".

Those close to Mr Laurie described him as a "very friendly, though mentally unwell, man", the court heard.

She said issues stemmed from Mr Laurie "not understanding people's personal space".

Crown prosecutor Andrew Horowitz opposed bail, saying the woman nominated to oversee the accused was someone who "spends her days drinking in Allsop Park" and lives a short distance from a day care centre.

"There are concerns of her capacity to satisfy the court," Mr Horowitz said.

Magistrate David Heilpern said the alleged actions, captured on CCTV, would "cause anyone concern".

He said his primary concern was for the safety of the alleged victim and refused bail.

He adjourned the matter until March 5.