Top NZ musician awaits indecent assault sentence

By Edward Gay

A prominent New Zealand musician pushed a girl's head towards his genitals while drunk in an alley-way, following a concert, the Auckland District Court heard today.

The man is in his thirties and has name suppression. He has previously pleaded guilty to committing an indecent act likely to offend, on a 16-year-old girl.

The offence carries a maximum penalty of two years jail.

The man's lawyer Ron Mansfield said the man had performed at a concert in Wellington last year and was on his way to his hotel at 3.30am when three girls approached him on the street.

"They asked if they could kiss him," Mr Mansfield said.

He said two of the girls walked down an alley-way with the man and he made a series of "crude propositions". They were then joined by a third young woman before the man forced her head towards his genitals.

"It caused offence to all three young women present. He mis-read the occasion that was occurring," Mr Mansfield said.

He said the man had been drinking and had no recollection of what happened the next day.

Mr Mansfield said his client was ashamed of what he had done and had offered to pay the 16 year-old $5000 in reparations. He said the man had also offered to take part in a restorative justice programme with the victim but she had turned this down.

"He has been trying to rationalise in his mind how this could have occurred to ensure it does not ever happen again," Mr Mansfield said.

He said the man has also addressed his attitude to alcohol.

"He has let down his family, friends, the New Zealand public and his fans," Mr Mansfield said.

Mr Mansfield said his client should be discharged without conviction because a conviction would have an adverse affect on his chances to break into international markets.

He said it would also have a negative impact on musicians that he performs with.

Mr Mansfield produced letters from the executive director of the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) New Zealand director Anthony Healey and Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) CEO Campbell Smith.

Both men said naming the man could destroy the man's chances of succeeding overseas and could have a negative affect on New Zealand music overseas.

Mr Mansfield described the man as a "leading New Zealand talent".

"The New Zealand music industry has high expectations for him achieving a high level of international success," Mr Mansfield said.

He said the media was only interested in the case because of the musician's fame and the punishment of him being named would far out-weigh any sentence the court is likely to hand down.

William Akel represented the New Zealand Herald, Fairfax, TVNZ and TV3.

He argued that the naming of the man would not affect his career if he is discharged without conviction.

Mr Akel argued that if there was a "total shut down of the court", it would appear that the man was being treated differently because of his prominence.

"Is there in fact some special consideration being given because this is a prominent person?"

Mr Akel said it would be far better for the court to name the man so that young fans could learn a lesson from the proceedings.

The police took a neutral stance on the suppression of the man's name.

The musician was due to be sentenced today in the Auckland District Court but Judge Eddie Paul reserved his decision on name suppression and the man's sentence until next Friday.

- NZ Herald

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