Man sentenced for stalking women and stealing their shoes

The man and his shoe attacks were caught on security cameras. Photo / NZ Police

A man who stalked and attacked three women before stealing their shoes has been sentenced to 200 hours of community work.

The 22-year-old’s name and identity are suppressed pending an appeal by his lawyer.

At the man’s sentencing this afternoon, Judge Keith de Ritter said this was repeated and deliberate offending by a man who targeted vulnerable young women on their way home.

“You effectively stalked them, you laid in wait,” the judge said at the Auckland District Court, “used disguises to hide your identity, and was persistent to the point of using force to get their shoes.”

He first offended in September 2020, standing by the entrance of his victim’s apartment and following her inside, wearing a scarf over his face.

He entered the lift with her and told her, “I like your feet, I really like your feet,” the court heard.

He then dropped to his knees, wrapped his arms around her legs and tried to take her shoes off.

She ripped off his face mask before he fled the building with both her shoes on.

Nine months later, he struck again in very similar circumstances, this time on two victims in one day.

Prosecutors said the attacks were violent and traumatic for the women who were attacked at their own homes.

His defence lawyer Joon Yi told the court the young man naively chose to steal the shoes near the women’s homes because he did not want them to be walking around without shoes on for long.

The offending took place over three days in lockdown, Yi said, when the young man was isolated in Auckland, stuck in a university dorm listening to lectures every day with no support.

The young migrant, whose family are all overseas, realised he had a shoe fetish when he was 10 years old.

Yi said he was able to manage it relatively well before the offending, by buying secondhand shoes online and spending time on his hobbies, exercise and photography.

But lockdown and internet porn prompted him to go out and steal shoes, acting out his fetish.

Yi argued for a discharge without conviction and permanent name suppression for the man, saying the consequences of a conviction and publication would be out of proportion to the gravity of his offending.

Judge de Ritter declined both, saying his offending was serious, though mitigated by his early guilty plea, apology letters and reparation payments of $3000 each to the victims.

He also did 190 hours of voluntary work at the Salvation Army.

The judge sentenced him to 200 hours of community work and 12 months of supervision.

The case first came to light on the Police Ten 7 show in August last year, when police appealed to the public for help to identify the man before he struck again.

In security footage broadcast on the show, the man could be seen following a young woman into a building in central Auckland in June 2021.

He rode the same lift with her, followed her as she got out, then tackled her to the floor and removed one of her shoes.

Hearing her screams, other residents rushed to her aid and the young man ran down a hallway.

He was confronted by another resident before returning the shoe and leaving the building.

Moments later, the man performed a second, nearly identical attack on a different victim nearby, also captured on CCTV.

This time, he looked directly at a security camera before attacking the woman, stealing one shoe, then fleeing.

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