Karate instructor cleared of charge

Last updated 05:00 01/04/2014

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Charges against a South Canterbury karate instructor have been thrown out of court.

Judge Joanna Maze, in the Timaru District Court yesterday, dismissed one charge of indecent assault against Neil Joseph Patrick Culling, 43, because of lack of evidence.

Culling, of Pareora, who had name suppression lifted, went on trial late last year.

The complainant said when she joined the sports club Culling worked at, he asked for her cellphone number for club records. She then started receiving explicit texts from him and would reply to him, saying she was not interested.

She eventually stopped replying to his texts and on October 24, 2012, she said he asked her to stay behind after class.

The complainant did, and soon after Culling grabbed her by her belt and wrapped his legs around her body and said he wanted to kiss her, according to her statement. Culling then grabbed her breast and tried to kiss her.

Prosecutor Mike Wingfield said the complainant allegedly said "no", but Culling said he could do what he wanted.

However, Culling said that when he asked for a kiss, and patted his own cheek, the complainant told him: "If you can catch me you can have it".

He then grabbed her belt, but realised it was inappropriate so let her go.

The following day Culling allegedly sent suggestive texts.

However, when he was told someone had laid a complaint against him, he allegedly sent more texts to the complainant, pleading for her not to tell anyone.

The complainant also claimed she was touched inappropriately by Culling in front of the class, which was made to look like an accident.

No-one claimed to have witnessed the events, which allegedly happened at classes Culling's wife also attended.

The judge said police had to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Culling had in fact indecently assaulted the complainant.

She questioned whether the complainant would have continued attending classes if she was the subject of "unwanted" sexual advances.

"She says it [an indecent assault] happened, he said it didn't," the judge said, dismissing the charge.

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- The Timaru Herald

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