A Middle Eastern refugee who grabbed, groped and licked
female joggers on a popular running route in Christchurch has
today avoided jail and been granted permanent name
The man, dubbed the 'Port Hills Groper', pleaded guilty last
November to eight charges of indecent assault.
He approached the women on the running and biking trails and
touched seven on the breasts and one on the buttocks. The
youngest was aged just 16.
Most of the offences were in the second half of 2012, but one
dates to 2010.
When the 64-year-old appeared before Christchurch District
Court for sentencing today one of his targets read out her
victim impact statement.
She said she was "frightened, humiliated and eventually
angry" after the assault.
The man walked up to her smiled, touched, her breast and
"I was so shocked he did that. I felt quite frightened for a
long time afterwards."
She still walks in the area six times a week because she
wouldn't let him "spoil" her outings.
"I have a right to do that without someone putting their
hands on me."
Like the police, the woman argued the offender should be
"named and shamed" because he was a "predator and not a frail
Defence counsel Moana Cole told the court she didn't think
jail was appropriate because her client's crimes were at the
low end of the scale, he was a first-time offender and not
His family had put in place a "safety plan" to prevent
further offending, and to "protect [the offender] as much as
the wider community".
The offending was described by Judge Jane Farish as "highly
opportunistic and brazen" but she said the seriousness of the
crimes did not warrant a jail term.
"Cultural ambiguities", highlighted in a psychologist's
report before the courts, may have led to the man's bizarre
actions, Judge Farish believed.
She sentenced him to 300 hours of community work and 12
Judge Farish also granted permanent name suppression on the
grounds that his identification would have major
repercussions for him and his family and place huge stresses
It would lead to the whole family to being "socially
isolated" and "ostracised", the judge said.
She said the "misnomer of Port Hills Groper" had vilified him
in relation to his offending.
His wife had been subjected to "inappropriate conduct" by a
member of the public which forced the family to move house.
Reporting restrictions were put on his ethnicity and
religion, but Judge Farish said media could say he was of
"Middle Eastern extraction".
The Probation Service and Immigration Service will work to
help him reintegrate into society.