Malaysian Diplomat Rizalman Says He Went To Strip Club For Music, Not To Ogle At Women
NZ judge says Rizalman had sexual motives when he entered the house of a 21-year-old woman
Disgraced Malaysian Embassy worker Muhammad Rizalman had a sexual motive when he followed a Wellington woman home, defecated outside her house and then walked in and indecently assaulted her.
The 39-year-old has admitted believing in black magic, smoking cannabis and buying legal highs. But he said on May 9 last year, he followed Tania Billingsley home only because she had given him a look he took as an invitation.
Rizalman claimed he was simply going to discuss his problems with her.
According to a New Zealand Herald report, Justice David Collins also found that Rizalman was in an abnormal state of mind, which might have diminished his understanding when he indecently assaulted the woman.
“However, Mr Rizalman’s possible ‘diminished understanding’ is not a mitigating factor because at the time of his offending Mr Rizalman was, in all likelihood, affected by synthetic cannabis,” said Justice Collins.
Rizalman is due to be sentenced next year and Justice Collins said he would hold a discharge without conviction hearing in February, if Rizalman was still applying for that.
The judge has ordered a pre-sentence report and a report to assess Rizalman's suitability for home detention, which could be served at the Malaysian High Commission.
Justice Collins asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to forward a copy of his decision to the Malaysian High Commission to see if it was willing.
Former Malaysian defence attache Muhammad Rizalman Ismail is currently facing a hearing for sexual assault in New Zealand.
Rizalman, who was attached with the Malaysian High Commission before being charged, admitted to a Wellington High Court that he went to a strip club but claimed he was only there "for the music".
According to NZ Herald, Prosecutor Grant Burston asked Rizalman if he had gone to a strip club called "Mermaids" in Wellington in June last year on two occasions when he "felt under pressure"
Burston: The women were taking their clothes off?
Rizalman: Only their outer clothes.
Burston: The women were topless?
Burston: Were you interested in looking at the attractive women in the strip club?
Burston: Why did you go to the strip club?
Rizalman: To listen to music and release tension.
Previous incidents involving Rizalman and women
According to the report, Rizalman admitted to buying cannabis at a Wellington shop called Cosmic on Cuba on May 2 last year, where he then tried to approach two young female shop assistants.
Burston asked Rizalman if had questioned the two women if they had a boyfriend and asked one of the women out for a drink, to which he replied, "Maybe". However, Rizalman said he "can't remember" when asked if he grabbed one of the young women's shoulder when he was told to leave them alone.
He gave the same answer when asked if a male employee had escorted him out of the shop. The report said Rizalman also admitted to smoking synthetic cannabis in Malaysia but denied using it during his stay in New Zealand.
He was also asked about following a woman in Wellington on 8 May 2014. However, the former Malaysian defence attache told the Court that he only "needed somebody to talk about the problems".
"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."
The hearing is not to determine Rizalman's innocence as he had already pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a Wellington woman.
However, he is disputing certain facts of the case and the hearing is meant to establish which version the High Court will accept.
In response to questions from Prosecutor Grant Burston who asked why he had followed his alleged victim Tania Billingsley to her home and was subsequently accused of assaulting her, the former defence attache told the Wellington High Court that "in Malaysian custom, if a woman smiles at a man, it is an invitation to follow"
According to the NZ Herald, Rizalman testified that he was "getting signals" from the way Billingsley smiled at him.
"Not from her speech but from her mannerisms and the way she smiled and the way she behaved. In Malaysian custom, if a woman smiles at a man it is deemed that they are happy to know that person," he said.
Burston then asked Rizalman if a woman's smile was an invitation to follow them home. At this, he replied: "It is an invitation to follow. It wouldn't necessarily mean you go into their house."
The report then said Rizalman who followed Billingsley home told the High Court he waited outside her house for a long time as she had shut the doors and he was expecting her to invite him in
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 claimed he removed his pants and underpants because he had to urgently defecate and not because he wanted to have sex with Billingsley. He claimed that he then proceeded into Billingsley's home through her closed but unlocked door to "clean" himself. "I went to the house because I wanted to clean myself."malaysiakini.com
"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."
Who is Rizalman? According to answers given to questions asked about his background in the High Court, Rizalman is a "warrant officer 2" in the Malaysian military. He signed up in June 1994 and his Wellington appointment began in September 2013.