Masseur acquitted of indecent touching

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 13:01 03/07/2014

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A jury has acquitted a masseur of indecently touching a female customer.

The 43-year-old will have his passport returned by police and will leave New Zealand with his wife almost immediately.

The couple have children overseas, and the man was barred from attending a graduation for one of them because of his bail conditions while on remand.

Judge Jane Farish made a permanent name suppression order on the man, and the business where he had been contracted to work, after a Christchurch District Court jury returned its two not-guilty verdicts on indecent-assault charges today.

"Publication of his name at this stage is not going to serve any public purpose now that he has been found not guilty," the judge said.

The man denied the charges at a three-day trial. The jury deliberated for three hours from mid-afternoon on Wednesday.

Defence counsel Michael Starling told the court that the man had overstayed his visa because of delays in holding the jury trial.

"Once he gets his passport, he and his family will leave the country pretty much immediately," he said.

The trial was told that the man's wife was in the next room at the Christchurch clinic at the time the indecency allegations arose.

The man did not give evidence at the trial, but the jury was played a video recording of his interview with the police in which he denied the indecent touching took place.

The customer - a married woman with a young child - told the court of the man giving her a full body massage in November 2012.

She was a trained massage therapist and had received about 100 massages herself.

She told the court she had not reacted when the man's hands had gone across her breasts, beneath a towel, during the massage.

She had tried to justify it to herself as a massage technique, though she believed there was no clinical benefit.

But she reacted immediately when she felt his hand go inside her underpants, she said.

The massage stopped immediately after that, she said.

The judge thanked the jury members for sticking to their task and returning unanimous verdicts.

"Some may not have found it an easy or pleasant task," she said.

"It is difficult to sit in judgment on your fellow man, particularly in cases like this."

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