A French body piercer has been acquitted on charges of inappropriately touching two female Nelson clients.
Vincent Jean Delebecque, 25, was facing three charges of indecent assault, two involving one woman and a third involving another.
He was last night acquitted by a jury after a two-day trial.
The Crown had alleged that Delebecque touched the women inappropriately while working as a body piercer at Gizmos in Nelson.
The Crown said Delebecque put his hand down a 16-year-old's pants while she was getting a piercing done in a tattoo on her hip in March, and that he indecently assaulted a 24-year-old woman who went to Gizmos to get her genitals pierced in April.
Defence lawyer Tony Bamford said in his closing that the complaints against Delebecque had to be seen in context.
Mr Bamford said Delebecque denied that the first alleged incident happened. However, the second witness was having a very intimate procedure done, and he had to touch her in an intimate place to carry it out.
The complainant had never had a piercing of that type done before and did not know what to expect, Mr Bamford said.
He said the alleged indecent had to be seen in context. The reason for the touching was to show her the different purposes of the jewellery.
The next alleged incident of inappropriate touching involving that witness was accidental, he said.
Crown prosecutor Craig Stevenson told the jury Delebecque's behaviour was unprofessional and illegal.
Mr Stevenson said the similarities between the two complainants, who were unknown to each other, made their allegations more reliable.
In summing up, Judge Tony Zohrab said that while body piercing was likely to be something the jurors were not too familiar with, they needed to put aside any prejudice they had over the complainants getting piercings, and the accused choosing it as a career.
The jury was sent out to deliberate at 5pm last night, and returned its verdicts four hours later.
Delebecque was found not guilty on two charges – the single charge against the now-17-year-old and one against the 24-year-old – by an 11 to one majority, while the third not guilty verdict was unanimous.
It is the first time a majority verdict has been reached in Nelson since that option was introduced.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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