Sex workers thought they were going to die

Two terrified sex workers thought they were going to die or be seriously assaulted when they heard they were being driven to the Barbadoes Street cemetery after one of them provided services in central Christchurch.

The two women were in shock when they were left on the side of the road near the cemetery after being indecently assaulted and having the money taken off one of them that she she had earlier been paid for having sex with Richard Manoa Edwards.

Twenty-nine-year-old Edwards, of Richmond, today pleaded guilty to the charge of theft and two indecent assaults, on the day his Christchurch District Court jury trial was due to begin.

Judge Paul Kellar remanded him on continued electronic bail for sentencing on October 2, and gave him a first strike warning.

The judge asked for a pre-sentence report that will consider his suitability for home or community detention, but he warned that was no an indication of the likely sentence.

He also referred the case for a possible restorative justice meeting with the two victims. The referral is required by the legislation even though the police officer in charge indicated that the two women did not wish to meet Edwards.

Defence counsel Serina Bailey said Edwards was willing to meet the victims and would be able to pay them emotional harm reparations.

Crown prosecutor Kerry White said the incident began about 3.40am on August 12, 2018, when the two women were approached by two men in a Subaru Legacy while they were working along Manchester Street.

One of the men was Edwards who negotiated a price with one of the women for her to provide sexual services. Both women got into the car, along with Edwards and his associate, and they drove to a Peterborough Street where the sex was provided.

Edwards then negotiated for further services which were provided in the back of the car. The two women then got into the back of the car, which was being driven by Edwards’ associate. They expected to be driven back to Manchester Street, as they had asked.

Edwards sat in the front, and indicated with his hand that the victim should drive past the Manchester Street corner. He put a yellow bandanna over the lower half of his face and demanded to know where his money was, from the woman he had had sex with.

“The defendant’s voice and demeanour changed dramatically and he became incredibly hostile,” said the prosecutor.

The woman told him she did not have his money. He then asked the second woman, and she said she did not have his money either.

The first woman became hysterical and was crying, and asked where they were being taken to.

Edwards indicated to his associate to keep on driving and head to the cemetery. Both victims were terrified and thought they were going to die or be seriously assaulted, the Crown prosecutor said.

They parked near Willow Street, across the Avon River from the cemetery, where Edwards said he was going to search the women. Both were crying and saying they did not take the money. Edwards and the women got out of the car.

Edwards grabbed the $70 from the hand of the woman who had earlier been paid for having sex with him.

Edwards then rubbed his hands all over the second woman’s body, fondling her breasts, and put his hand under her dress and rubbed his hand over her pants. He then touched the first woman, rubbing his hands all over her body.

The men then left in the car, leaving the two women shocked on the roadside. As they walked back to a car they had parked in Manchester Street, the women called the police and Edwards was spoken to six weeks later. He denied the offending.

Edwards was originally charged with kidnapping, sexual violation, indecent assault, and robbery. He pleaded guilty today when the charges were reduced to indecent assault and theft of the $70.