• Former Malaysian attache admits buying drugs
• He has admitted indecently assaulting woman
• Claims superior officer put a spell on him
• Denies defecating outside woman's house
Former Malaysian Embassy worker Muhammad Rizalman has admitted to smoking cannabis, buying synthetic cannabis and that he believes in black magic, but denies defecating outside the victim's house to put a spell on her.
The 39-year-old, who admitted indecently assaulting a Wellington woman, has given evidence today outlining his version of events.
He disputed aspects of what the Crown says he did in a hearing about disputed facts in the High Court at Wellington.
The indecent assault happened at Ms Billingsley's home in the suburb of Brooklyn in May last year.
The name of an indecent-assault victim is normally automatically suppressed, but Ms Billingsley has waived this right.
Helped by an interpreter, Rizalman was shown a written copy of his account of the night in question before Crown prosecutor Grant Burston began questioning him.
Mr Burston asked Rizalman about a statement he'd made in Malaysia, saying he'd never bought or used synthetic cannabis.
After being shown bank records, showing an $18.95 transaction at Cosmic on Cuba on May 2 last year, Rizalman admitted buying the legal high there.
Mr Burston said a shop employee had said Rizalman bought the highest-strength cannabis - puff super strength. That costs $15 and cigarette papers costs about $4.
Rizalman accepted that.
Mr Burston then said the employee's evidence was that Rizalman asked two young female shop assistants if they had a boyfriend and what they were doing later.
"Did that happen?" Mr Burston asked.
"Maybe," Rizalman replied.
Mr Burston then asked if Rizalman asked one of the women for a drink after work.
"Maybe," Rizalman replied.
One of the women told Rizalman to leave him alone, Mr Burston said. He then tried to grab the young woman's shoulders.
"Did that happen?" Mr Burston asked.
"I can't remember," Rizalman replied.
Nor could he remember if he had had to be ushered out of the shop by a male employee.
Rizalman admitted smoking cannabis back in Malaysia last year, six weeks before he went into a psychiatric hospital.
He did so to help him relax and sleep.
He also toked at secondary school, with friends, and admitted it helped him relax.
Mr Burston said Rizalman told a psychiatrist in August this year he had not used any drugs apart from alcohol.
"I did not conceal but I did not say because it was not normally done," Rizalman said through the interpreter.
"Because I had not used for a long time."
But, Mr Burston said, Rizalman had used synthetic cannabis last year.
"I don't remember using it but I admit to buying it," Rizalman said.
So what was he doing with it?
"I'm not sure and I was confused at that time."
He said he "maybe" used it to relieve stress at work.
Mr Burston then said Rizalman tested positive for cannabis and morphine on his first day in the psychiatric hospital in Malaysia, a country where morphine is sprayed on cannabis to heighten the sensation.
Rizalman admitted he tested positive for both on days one and two and cannabis on day six there.
He denied smoking cannabis during his stay.
Rizalman admitted he believed in "black magic".
He also told a psychiatrist he believed a superior officer had put a spell on him. That officer had an uncle who was a shaman.
"Do you know of a spell that you can put on a woman to make her fall in love with you by defecating outside her house?" Mr Burston asked.
"I don't know because I've never practiced it," Rizalman said.
"The reason that you took off your belt and lowered your trousers and underpants outside this young woman's front door, on the patio by her front door, was more about black magic than having to go to the toilet in an emergency?"
Interest in women
Rizalman was asked about an assessment report in June last year, which said there was information about Rizalman's "increased interest towards women".
"You went to a place called Mermaids in Wellington twice when you felt under pressure," Mr Burston said.
"Yes," Rizalman replied.
"The women were taking their clothes off?"
"Only their outer clothes."
"The women were topless?"
"Were you interested in looking at the attractive women in the strip club?"
"Why did you go to the strip club?"
"To listen to music and release tension."
Rizalman admitted using cash to enter the Mermaids but said he hadn't bought synthetic cannabis with cash, and the only time he purchased it was recorded on his bank statement.
He said he was "maybe" interested in the two young women at Cosmic on Cuba when he asked them for a drink.
He was also asked about following a woman in Wellington on one occasion last year. Rizalman was wearing his aviator sunglasses and a dark suit.
Mr Burston said the young woman went into the Trade Aid store when she realised she was being tailed.
"When she went into the shop you stared at her for a while through the windows, didn't you," Mr Burston asked.
"I was looking at the window but I was not actually looking at her," Rizalman said.
He said he was looking at the items in the shop.
Mr Burston said when the woman was walking she got about a metre past Rizalman and he had spun around, said something and then followed about ten metres behind her.
Rizalman said he wanted to get to his parked car.
Mr Burston said the woman went into the shop and thought Rizalman would keep walking.
"She was shocked, she says, has she got it all wrong Mr Rizalman, you weren't interested in her at all?"
Mr Burston said she stayed in the store, went to an area where he couldn't see her and waited five minutes. She checked Rizalman was gone and decided to leave and then crossed the road, heading up Manners St.
The woman noticed a car stopped next to her and looked over.
"It was you driving the car. You had the front window down, passenger window down and were trying to talk to her," Mr Burston said.
"I'm not sure because Manners St, the cars cannot stop on [the] road," Rizalman said.
Mr Burston said he was leaning over the passenger seat, motioning for the woman to get in.
"I am not sure," Rizalman said.
"She kept walking away from you and you kept driving across over Manners St and pulled into a parking bay?"
"I'm not sure."
"That could have happened, what this young woman has described happening on Thursday, May 8, last year?"
"She says it did happen and she went into another store to get away from you again."
"I am not sure."
Mr Burston said he was suggesting Rizalman was interested in the "attractive young woman".
"Maybe I needed somebody to talk about the problems," Rizalman said.
He admitted he might have bought her a drink, over which they could talk.
"Perhaps it would take the pressure of you if she gave you a cuddle and a little kiss, or something like that?" Mr Burston asked.
"No, I just wanted to talk about the problems."
"Is that why you were asking the two female shop assistants at Cosmic on Cuba if they would go out for a drink with you, so you could talk about your problems with them?"
"If they had been interested in having sex with you, would you have been interested in having sex with them?"
"No, I only wanted to talk."
"Were you sexually interested in the women who were taking their clothes off in Mermaids?"
Mr Burston asked Rizalman about what he told police when he was spoken to by officers outside Ms Billingsley's home on May 9 last year.
He first spoke to a female constable, who asked Rizalman why he was on the path by the house.
Rizalman told her he'd met a girl at Reading Cinemas."That was a lie?""
Maybe, but it was a misunderstanding because my English is not good." Rizalman said he felt under pressure.
"Had you met the victim at the Reading Cinemas that night?" Mr Burston asked.
"Outside the shop, not the cinema," Rizalman said."You told the constable that you had watched a movie with her. That was a lie?"
"Maybe it was a misunderstanding."
"You told the policewoman that you followed the girl home and had something to eat with her. That was a lie?"
Rizalman said he didn't watch a movie with the woman or eat with her. He also spoke to a police detective sergeant, when he arrived.
Rizalman repeated his story about meeting a woman at the cinema and watching a movie together.
Today he said he watched a movie alone.
"At that point in time I was confused and I was not in the right frame of mind."
Rizalman had told the detective sergeant Ms Billingsley invited him back to her house. Mr Burston said that wasn't true.
"When I was outside the shop, the girl was giving me signals, the way she looked at me and the way she smiled at me. It was as if she was inviting me over," Rizalman said.
"I'll ask you again, you were making up the girl inviting [you] back to her house to give a reasonable explanation for the police as to why you were there?" Mr Burston asked.
"You then said to the detective sergeant that you had gone inside and started eating her food. That was a lie?"
"You told the detective sergeant that made her angry and she kicked you out because you'd started eating her food?"
"Maybe that was a lie as well?"
Mr Burston said Rizalman spoke again to the female constable at the police station, where he was again asked what had happened.
Mr Burston said Rizalman told police: "I met that lady at the movies. I follow her back to her place. She lets me in and I ate some food. She invited me back."
Mr Burston said Ms Billingsley did not let Rizalman in, she hadn't invited him back and he had not eaten any food.
Rizalman said today he was getting signals from the way she smiled at him. But Ms Billingsley had not invited him back to her place.
"Not from her speech but from her mannerisms and the way she smiled and the way she behaved" led Rizalman to believe he was invited back to Ms Billingsley's.
"In Malaysian custom, if a woman smiles at a man it is deemed that they are happy to know that person."
"So that's an invitation to follow them home is it?" Mr Burston asked.
"It is an invitation to follow." It wouldn't necessarily mean you go into their house, Rizalman said.
How the events unfolded
Mr Burston said police evidence had pieced together what Rizalman did on the day he indecently assaulted Ms Billingsley.
At 9.32am he bought a ticket to the movie Chef.He went to the 11.20 screening. Rizalman said he remembered going to the cinema and sleeping.
About 3pm, he bought a mini bottle of Jack Daniel's. It was found in Rizalman's jacket pocket, but he said today he hadn't been a drinker since before he was married."I don't know why I bought it," Rizalman said, before denying it could be a present for a young woman he hoped to befriend.
After 4.57pm, Rizalman's phone diverted all calls to his message. Until 9.38pm that night there were 132 unanswered calls from his wife's cellphone. At 5.31pm he bought a pineapple and chips from a local supermarket.
Ms Billingsley bought food there at 5.49pm."You stared at the victim when she went into the shop?" Mr Burston said."I'm not sure," Rizalman said.
"She says you were staring at her when she came out?"
"When she had crossed in front of me I was sure she had given me a signal, eye contact." He decided to follow.
"She described you as being quite creepy?"
"I'm not sure."Rizalman maintained Ms Billingsley smiled and gave him a signal to follow her.
He said he fell behind her because she walked fast.
"If she wanted to befriend you, why didn't you call out to her?" Mr Burston asked.
"I was waiting for her to reach a place where I could talk to her," Rizalman said.
"Why didn't you run to catch up to her to say hello?"
"At the time it didn't occur to me to run towards her."
Ms Billingsley told police she didn't know she was being followed.
"I'm quite sure she noticed me because she was looking around when she needed to cross the road," Rizalman said.
"I suggest you did not want her to know you were following her?" Mr Burston said.
"No," Rizalman replied.
Ms Billingsley's house was up several steps and paths, well away from the road. But Rizalman didn't call out for her to wait for him.
"She didn't know you were there and you didn't want her to know you were there?" Mr Burston said.
"I knew that she knew I was following her," Rizalman said.
"How would she know that you were following her?"
"Maybe because I could see her and I was sure she could see me."But he did nothing to attract her attention.
At the house
In her house Ms Billingsley made a 111 call at 6.39pm, meaning Rizalman waited outside for 30 to 40 minutes in the dark before he entered her house.
Mr Burston asked if it was during that period that Rizalman had an "emergency defecation".
Rizalman said he waited for a long time because Ms Billingsley had shut her door and he expected her to invite him in."I expected her to maybe go in, prepare some food. and maybe invite me in," Rizalman said.
Inside, he could talk about his problems. Mr Burston wondered why Rizalman didn't knock on Ms Billingsley's door, introduce himself and ask if he could come inside and discuss his problems.
Rizalman said he was waiting for an invitation inside. He later told a psychiatrist he'd never had an emergency defecation before. Today he said that was right and the night in question was the only time it had happened to him.
Rizalman agreed he only had time to remove his trousers and underpants and go where he stood, not having time to move away from the front door over to the lawn. He said he didn't know who was inside the house and he had not looked inside to see who was there. He denied taking off his pants and underpants because he wanted to have sex with Ms Billingsley.
"I went to the house because I wanted to clean myself."
"The young woman wasn't interested in having sex with you. She was terrified, wasn't she?" Mr Burston asked.
"I didn't have any intention to have [a] sexual relationship with her," Rizalman said.He agreed that after listening to her 111 call, he knew Ms Billingsley was scared, but maintained: "I went into the room in desperation because I wanted to ask to use the bathroom"
"I still felt that she wanted to be friends with me and as a friend I approached the door, I knocked on the door and I asked for permission to go in."
Rizalman said he didn't get the chance to ask where the bathroom was. As he entered the house, he had left his trousers and underpants in a sunroom. Mr Burston suggested Rizalman could have used a towel from a drying rack to cover his nakedness, before "marching up to the foot of the bed".
Rizalman said that didn't occur to him.
After his altercation, he put his suit trousers on without his underpants. But Mr Burston said there was no faecal staining on those.
"What I put to you Mr Rizalman is you took your trousers and underpants off because you were hoping that the attractive young woman inside the house would be interested in having sex with you," Mr Burston said.
"No, not at all," Rizalman said.
"That is the reason why you had followed her all the way from the food market to her home and were waiting outside, before you made the decision to go in," Mr Burston said.
"No, I only wanted to befriend her and talk about my problems," Rizalman said.
Defence lawyer Donald Stevens, QC, asked Rizalman about a positive urine test he'd returned for cannabis, when he was a corporal.
A subsequent blood test returned a negative result. Rizalman was then asked why he was interested in the two young women in Cosmic on Cuba.
"Because I wanted to make friends with them and talk about my problems," Rizalman said. Doing so would relieve stress. He said when he spoke to police at Ms Billingsley's, he was stressed about what had happened and confused.
"I think you told one of the police officers, maybe two, that you were losing your mind?" Dr Stevens asked.
"What, Mr Rizalman did you mean by that?"He said he'd felt for some time he was losing his mind."I didn't know what I'd done and where I was. I was feeling tired and sleepy," he said."I was not really conscious of what I was saying." He felt confused and had been under pressure since he arrived in New Zealand in September 2013. He'd had no such problems in Malaysia but in Wellington saw a doctor.
After he indecently assaulted Ms Billingsley, he consulted another doctor. On one of those visits he was prescribed medication, but his wife wouldn't let him take it. He was also referred to a psychiatrist.
Professor Graham Mellsop was asked by Mr Burston about psychiatrists in Malaysia attributing Rizalman's stay in hospital there to drug use. Two months after his offending, no mental illness was identified.
Prof Mellsop said the report in which those conclusions were made was logically presented and had included a wide variety of information sources.
He said Rizalman had scored highly on what's known as the L-scale, or lie-scale, and the F-scale, the faking scale.
"The higher lie-scale score is consistent with their conclusions from other evidence that [Rizalman] did not always tell the truth.
"The higher F-scale score is consistent with the idea that he was exaggerating his symptoms."
Prof Mellsop said the broad range of symptoms described by Rizalman or those in contact with him could have been caused by synthetic cannabis.
There was evidence in reports about Rizalman suggesting he told "lots of lies", Prof Mellsop said.
He agreed with Dr Stevens that legal highs could cause hallucinations and other psychotic symptoms.
Dr Stevens asked Prof Mellsop if he thought Rizalman's wife was exaggerating when she was concerned about his behaviour.
Rizalman's wife said her husband was sleepy, tired, difficult to wake in the morning and not alert to his surroundings. He was confused and would get lost looking for his car.
"I think she was making correct observations to a substantial degree, whether or not it was exaggerated by her anxieties I don't know," Prof Mellsop said.
"I believe she thought she was telling the truth."
Dr Stevens said Rizalman's wife said her husband would be found wandering the street, not knowing where he was.
Prof Mellsop: "I'm suggesting it's a technically incorrect observation, which she thought she was accurately making."
Rizalman's wife also said he was a devout Muslim who would pray five times a day, until "all of a sudden" he forgot the words, Dr Stevens said.
"Same answer as the last question," Prof Mellsop replied.
He accepted Rizalman's behaviour had changed and he was sleepy, "which I attribute to more regular or frequent substance injection".
Dr Stevens said one of the doctors Rizalman had visited said he suffered from anxiety and depression. Rizalman was prescribed anti-depression medication.
In mid-April 2014, Rizalman's wife took him to another doctor at a medical centre in Johnsonville.
The doctor was told Rizalman was stressed at work and was no longer playing football.
He was sleeping excessively and well, but was still tired, Dr Stevens said.
He said Rizalman had said he was stressed because in New Zealand he didn't have other officers to help him at work, as he did back home.
Prof Mellsop said: "His account of his difficulties differs according to whom he is talking, and at different times."
The Crown summary of facts
It says about 6.30pm on Friday May 9, 2014, Ms Billingsley was at her flat.
"She was the only one home at the time and was watching a movie on her laptop in her bedroom," the summary says.
"Before entering the address, the defendant, Rizalman, removed his trousers and underwear."
He entered the flat through a closed but unlocked door.
In the kitchen, he took off his jacket.
Rizalman then knocked on Ms Billingsley's bedroom door and pushed it open.
"He spoke to the victim, saying, 'Can I come in?' The victim looked up from her bed and observed the defendant standing in the entranceway to the bedroom, wearing only a shirt and naked from the waist down," the summary says.
Ms Billingsley got up and began yelling and screaming for Rizalman to get out.
He approached her and grabbed her shoulders and the pair struggled.
Ms Billingsley managed to push Rizalman out of her room.
After removing him from the flat she locked the door and ran into the bathroom to call the police.
A neighbour heard screaming and called a flatmate, while a flatmate's boyfriend who lived nearby came to help.
He arrived to find Rizalman standing by the front door.
"By this time he had put his trousers back on," the summary says.
"The defendant was confronted, but eventually began walking away from the address on to the pathway."
Ms Billingsley suffered marks to her arms and "considerable emotional trauma".
Rizalman told police the pair had been to a cinema together. He claimed she invited him to her house but became angry when he ate her food.
Who is Rizalman?
Rizalman began today by answering questions from his lawyer Donald Stevens, QC, about his background.
Rizalman is a "warrant officer 2" in the Malaysian military. He signed up in June 1994 and his Wellington appointment began in September 2013.
Rizalman said he was a staff assistant to the defence attache, who was a lieutenant colonel.
He's never had any instances of misconduct in the military, nor had any criminal convictions anywhere.
Rizalman said he was married with a son, aged 9, and two daughters, 2 and 7.
Before he gave evidence, Justice David Collins heard arguments from media organisations looking to film Rizalman today.
The judge decided to allow the first 10 minutes of his evidence to be filmed. If he decided it was causing Rizalman undue stress, he would order filming to stop.
Dr Stevens opposed the filming, saying Rizalman suffered from anxiety and it would be "humiliating" for him.
"It would not be at all surprising if it would adversely affect the quality of his evidence," Dr Stevens said of the filming.