Belfast Telegraph

Cricket physio Dr Aijaz Bashir Ashai turned away from Newtownards hotel after allegations he molested masseuse at La Mon

By Paul Higgins and Claire Cromie

An international cricket physio accused of sexually assaulting a masseuse in a top Northern Ireland hotel has been turned away from another hotel.

The Nepalese national team, for whom Dr Aijaz Bashir Ashai had been working as a physiotherapist, were staying at the luxury La Mon House Hotel in Castlereagh when the assault is alleged to have occurred on Tuesday.

Newtownards Magistrates' Court heard today that staff at another local hotel, the Strangford Arms in Ards, have refused to allow him to check in - citing the "significant media attention" the case has attracted.

The story has made headlines in India and in Nepal, where Dr Ashai, from Thakur Village in East Mumbai, is one of the best-known sports physiotherapists.

His solicitor said he had tried to check into the Strangford Arms at 6pm on Wednesday after Deputy District Judge Joe Rice had been anxious to ensure the hotel had no leisure facilities.

He had opted for the Strangford Arms as it was close to both the court and police station.

Other arrangements have now been made for him to stay in an unnamed Belfast hotel, which again has no leisure facilities. His bail conditions have had to be changed as a result

The Nepalese cricket team were in Northern Ireland for the qualifying stages of the Twenty20 World Cup, which were being held at Stormont. They have now moved to a hotel in Republic of Ireland as their remaining matches are being held south of the border.

Meanwhile the Cricket Association of Nepal has terminated Dr Ashai's contract with immediate effect.

On Wednesday, a police constable told the court the masseuse alleged that Dr Ashai, had asked for a full body massage, and despite having been instructed to wear underpants, he attended without them.

He told her he was suffering in the groin and buttock area, the constable continued, and grabbed her hands and forced them between his legs, while in a state of arousal.

The court heard it was alleged he later apologised to the masseuse, in front of a hotel manager, noting she was in distress, and offered a £10 tip, which was refused.

Dr Ashai's lawyer said he admitted that he attended the massage but denied that he grabbed the masseuse's hands, or that he was aroused during treatment.

The lawyer said Dr Ashai had planned to travel to Dublin with the team for their remaining group qualifying matches, and then on to Scotland.

He confirmed to District Judge Des Perry that his passport had been surrendered and a £2,500 surety had been lodged with the court.

That being the case, Judge Perry varied the bail conditions and ordered Dr Ashai to come back to court on 12 August.

Dr Ashai has worked with a number of India's top cricketing stars. His website describes him as "an expert in the field of advanced physiotherapy".

It says: "He is also a physical trainer, a personal instructor, writer and sportsman."

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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