Rapid health deterioration while in custody awaiting sentence has struck a 60-year-old man found guilty of 14 charges of indecently assaulting three women during massages in 2012.
Doctors will soon assess whether Cunbin Zhang has had a stroke or a rapid onset of dementia, or has Parkinson's disease.
In the Christchurch District Court for his Crown sentencing by Judge Stephen O'Driscoll today, Zhang struggled to walk. His left arm shook constantly and he slumped sideways in the dock.
He appeared to be in good health during his trial.
The judge decided to release him immediately. Police were told to tell the three victims about the decision.
Zhang will be allowed to stay with his family in a Russley house where they are living while earthquake repairs are carried out on their home.
He will have to stay at the house all the time, unless he has to go to medical appointments, when he will have to be accompanied by his wife or daughter.
A referral for Zhang to the neurology department at Christchurch Hospital was made after a screening on June 4, and he will be seen within eight weeks.
His sentencing has been set for September 24, but it may be further delayed if it is thought a psychological assessment is needed under the Criminal Procedures (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act.
Zhang was found guilty of 14 indecency charges at the end of his trial, and he was remanded in custody for sentence.
The Crown's view at the time was that a prison term was inevitable.
The judge said today: "You don't need to be a rocket scientist to work out that his condition has deteriorated rapidly."
Defence counsel Bridget Ayrey said the testing process could take two months.
"The sentencing process has become a lot more complicated."
She provided details from the prison of the medical treatment so far.
She said the investigations needed to determine whether Zhang had a stroke, the onset of dementia or Parkinson's disease.
He had been assaulted at least once during the early part of his time in custody, and it had been found that he could not eat the prison food.
Prison officers had found a cache of food he had not eaten.
"He cannot manage sandwiches. He cannot eat Western food. It is causing gut and bowel issues," Ayrey told the court.
Zhang could not communicate in prison because of language difficulties and he had been given the wrong medication on one occasion because he could not communicate his needs.
His condition "shows his ability to cope in prison is just not there", she said.
The judge said a decision on a prison sentence would depend on the material that was placed before the court.
He has called for a report on Zhang's suitability for home detention.
All of the offences related to full-body massages given at two massage shops by Zhang, who had limited training and experience.
He had been told about areas he was not allowed to touch during massages.
The Crown said that all the offences involved conduct that could be regarded as indecent and that Zhang would have known it was indecent.
A Mandarin interpreter translated the proceedings for Zhang throughout the trial and was with him for the sentencing today.
- The Press
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