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Taupo fisherman beat up masseuse in Nelson motel after demanding refund for massage

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A woman was beaten up by a client when she wouldn’t give him a refund 45 minutes into an hour-long massage. Photo / 123rf

Solomona Te Fono was 45 minutes into an hour-long massage when he decided it wasn’t for him and wanted a refund.

But, when the masseuse said no, Te Fono responded by attacking her. He punched her around the head and face before threatening to kill her in the Nelson motel room for which he’d paid $600, massage included.

Today, the 20-year-old Taupō-based deep sea fisherman pleaded guilty in the Nelson District Court via video link from the court in Taupo to charges of robbery by assault, injuring with intent to injure and threatening to kill.

The police summary of facts said Te Fono, who was 19 at the time, got the woman’s phone number off the website where she advertises her masseuse service.

In the early hours of September 6, 2023, Te Fono was drinking in a central Nelson bar when he phoned her just after 2am and organised to meet for a massage.

Around 40 minutes later, he arrived at the woman’s motel room where the pair agreed on the terms of the hour-long massage, after which Te Fono would be allowed to stay in her room until 7am for $600.

Te Fono gave her $200 cash and transferred $400 to her bank account.

The woman massaged Te Fono for about 45 minutes but when he decided he didn’t want it to continue, he asked for a refund.

The woman said she did not provide refunds, which angered Te Fono and he began yelling at her and opening drawers in the room while looking for money.

He came to a drawer where she kept about $1200 cash, which she grabbed and put in her pocket when Te Fono opened the drawer.

He became enraged and told her he’d beat her up as he demanded she give him the money.

She refused to hand it over and Te Fono began to beat her, using both hands to punch her in the face and head multiple times, with closed fists.

As Te Fono punched her, she was yelling for help and trying to cover her head with her hands. Te Fono continued to punch her heavily, hitting her in the head and on her hands as she cried out for help.

Te Fono then put his hands around the woman’s neck, prompting her to claw at his hands. She could pull one of his hands off her neck enough that she was able to whisper; “take the money”.

She believed she lost consciousness at some stage during the assault.

Te Fono released his grip on her; she took the money from her pocket and handed it over.

He then pushed the woman into the motel room bathroom and told her to stay there as he shut the door. As he was leaving, he noticed the woman had peeked through the door to check he had gone.

Te Fono returned to the bathroom, pushed her back in and told her he would kill her if she stepped out.

She believed him so she remained in the bathroom and called the motel manager for help, as Te Fono ran from the premises with her money.

The woman, who had bruising and swelling all over her face, head and hand, plus abrasions and red marks around her neck, was taken to hospital and treated for her injuries.

She suffered headaches for several days and experienced sensitivity to sound, which the police said were common symptoms of concussion.

Te Fono told the police he became angry and punched the woman “hard” in the face about four times when she “stole” $300 from his bag and when he tried to get his money back from a drawer in the motel room she slammed his fingers in it.

He admitted to the police he had threatened to kill her.

Te Fono was remanded on bail for sentencing on August 6 with a warning from Judge Richard Russell that the matters he faced were serious.

Tracy Neal is a Nelson-based Open Justice reporter at NZME. She was previously RNZ’s regional reporter in Nelson-Marlborough and has covered general news, including court and local government for the Nelson Mail.

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