Fight for name suppression after groping massage student

Invercargill High and District Court. Photo: Luisa Girao
Invercargill High and District Court. Photo: Luisa Girao
A judge has declined permanent name suppression for a foreign national who has been sentenced after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a massage therapy student.

However, the man’s identity remained suppressed after he indicated he would appeal the decision.

On Tuesday, at the Invercargill District Court, Judge Bernadette Farnan sentenced the man to two years and four months’ imprisonment.

Following a trial in October, a jury found him guilty on four counts of indecent assault and one charge of sexual assault.

The charges related to an incident in June 2018 when a SIT massage therapy student said the man kissed and touched her breast and groin area without her consent during an appointment at his home.

During the sentencing, defence lawyer Hugo Young made submissions for discharge without conviction and permanent name suppression.

He said the consequences of the sentencing would have an extreme impact on the man’s wife.

Mr Young said the couple held work visas and were in the process of applying for residency.

With the conviction, the man’s wife’s options would be divorce and applying for the residency as a single person, or leaving New Zealand after her husband’s release.

Because of her Christian beliefs, she had made the decision to stay married to him, and feared she would be discriminated against upon returning to home country, Mr Young said.

Mr Young also requested a discount of 20% on the sentence due to his client’s cultural difference; Judge Farnan accepted a discount of 5%-10%.

However, she declined the discharge without conviction and the permanent name suppression applications, noting the man’s wife did not have the same last name as him.

She granted interim name suppression in light of the man’s appeal.

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