A Wollongong magistrate has released accused sex predator masseur Mark Horsfall on bail, citing excessive delays in the case by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The 60-year-old has been held on remand since March 22, accused of interfering with multiple women who came to him for massages.
His original accuser has told police she felt frozen with shock and was "internally screaming" as Horsfall sexually assaulted her in a prolonged ordeal at Body Resort Chinese Massage in Gerringong on March 19.
By May his list of alleged victims had grown to seven and charges swelled from 30 to 47, including 14 counts of aggravated sexual assault and 33 counts of aggravated sexual touching.
His defence lawyer, Matt Kwan, made an appeal for bail in Wollongong Local Court on Tuesday, telling the magistrate Horsfall had an out-of-area address he could now live at, and that he had spent too long in jail waiting on the DPP to progress the case.
Mr Kwan said if his client were to plead not guilty to the charges, he was unlikely to get a trial date before the second half of 2022.
The DPP's Lachlan McGonigal told the court the case was "incredibly complex", but said it had not in fact stagnated for more than six months.
"It's really unfortunate that police with the first listing, for the first complainant, was way back in March. Six others were added on May 18. If the police had done what they were entitled to and charged under a different sequence number, it wouldn't be outside the six-month period," he said.
"The Crown submits he poses a real danger of committing further offences. He can get out and do massages at home."
Magistrate Claire Girotto noted the "strong tendency evidence" showing a "similar modus operandi" in Horsfall's alleged offending.
She questioned whether an out-of-area address reduced the potential risk he posed to the community.
"You're still a person who's [allegedly] preying on women," she said.
"How do I mitigate the risk of protecting the community into the future? This is not a situation where he has got to be in Gerringong to commit this offence. He can be anywhere."
Mr Kwan and Horsfall himself, appearing via AVL, told the court it would not be possible for him to set up a massage business at his daughter's home.
"My sister had already disposed of all the massage equipment I had, all the tables," Horsfall said, adding he had received a letter from the Health Care Complaints Commission, prohibiting him from working in the industry.
In a previous court appearance, police argued it was not possible to ban Horsfall from his industry because he had no formal certifications. His training consisted of a Chinese remedial massage course completed in 1979, for which he had lost the certificate. He had been working at the Gerringong business for five months, on a cash-in-hand basis.
The magistrate noted there were a lot of charges involved but said the Crown's case was "pretty straightforward".
"[There is] a very lengthy Crown case statement that outlines all the charges quite succinctly," she said.
"He has been in custody since March 22 and the Crown has still not filed their charge certificate in the matter.
"There is an inordinate delay in this matter. The parties should be at case conference by now, and they're not."
It is a condition of Horsfall's bail that he not leave his daughter's Bligh Park address unless accompanied by her. He is also banned from entering the Illawarra or the Shoalhaven, unless to attend court or a legal appointment.
The matter returns to court October 20.
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