Diplomat had a sexual motive - judge

6:28 pm on 15 December 2015

A judge has concluded disgraced Malaysian diplomat Muhammad Rizalman had a sexual motive when he followed and attacked a Wellington woman last year.

Muhammad Rizalman at the High Court in Wellington on 30 November 2015.

Muhammad Rizalman at the High Court in Wellington on 30 November. Photo: POOL / Fairfax NZ

The 39-year-old has pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting Tania Billingsley in May 2014.

In a disputed facts hearing last week, Rizalman's lawyer said his client was in an altered mental state at the time of the incident, caused by work stress, possible depression and potential use of drugs.

In a judgement released today, Justice Collins said while the military officer might have had "diminished understanding" at the time of the attack, it was not a mitigating factor because he was likely affected by synthetic cannabis.

The judge ordered a pre-sentence report, including on Rizalman's eligibility for home detention.

Justice Collins said if he decided to sentence the man to home detention, it would have to be served under careful supervision in the Malaysian High Commission.

But the judge said he would have to be satisfied the Malaysian government would co-operate with any sentence he imposed.

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