Novi gets suspended jail sentence

A PROFESSIONAL masseur must keep his well-oiled hands to himself after receiving a suspended jail sentence for indecently assaulting four female tourists at his Byron Bay practice.

Claude Novi, 56, from Coopers Shoot, pleaded guilty in Byron Bay Local Court on Friday to four counts of assaulting four women with acts of indecency between March 2007 and March 2009.

The women made complaints to police after going to his massage practice in Lawson Street for treatments.

They complained of inappropriate touching of their vaginas and breasts during massages. Novi no longer operates the business.

Defence lawyer John Weller said his client was very co-operative with police with early guilty pleas. He said this indicated his remorse and was ‘consistent with him coming out of this dream state’.

Mr Weller backed his submission with documents about Novi tendered for magistrate Nicholas Reimer.

Mr Weller said his client had received psychological counselling and, despite the tragic background he came from, it was no excuse for his behaviour. He said Novi had immediately removed himself from the work he was doing and sold his business.

“It has been a very soul searching time,” Mr Weller said. “He has lost $18,000 and the sale of the business is the end of a dream.”

Mr Weller said the psychologist’s view on Novi was that he was unlikely to reoffend and had since been in an extreme state of anxiety.

“He accepts total responsibility for his actions and is very sympathetic to his victims,” Mr Weller said.

Mr Reimer placed Novi on a three-year good behaviour bond for the two offences committed in 2007 and placed under the supervision of Probation Services. On the two later offences Novi received a 12-month jail sentence, suspended immediately.

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