Western Sydney martial arts teacher allegedly assaulted boy | #teacher | #children | #kids

A children’s martial arts instructor from Sydney’s west is accused of sexually assaulting a young boy who he taught over the course of almost two years, a court has heard.

Christopher David Barnes was arrested at his home in Woodpark on Tuesday night after allegations from the boy’s family were reported to police on Monday.

Mr Barnes runs Fearless Martial Arts which claims to provide the “best martial arts training available anywhere in the world” out of a warehouse on Fairfield Road in Guildford West.

Police will allege the 33-year-old, known as Master Chris to his pupils, abused a boy who was a student at his school.

He has been charged him with aggravated sexual assault of a victim under the age of 16 years, and intentionally sexually touching a child aged between 10 and 16.

He was granted bail at Fairfield Local Court on Wednesday after his barrister Michael Fokkes argued there were significant doubts over the police case.

He also claimed in court the allegations may have been the result of collusion between two families.

Documents before the court allege Mr Barnes assaulted the boy at some point between 12.01am on January 1, 2019 and 11.59pm on December 31, 2020.

Mr Fokkes said police had been forced to provide such a “wide span of offending” because the fact sheet contained “no specific allegations as to when this occurred, at all”.

“If this had occurred to the child, he would remember … the child make absolutely no claims in the fact sheet at all as to when this occurred,” he said.

The court heard CCTV at the school would also disprove claims made in the police fact sheet that the boy had not turned up to the gym for two months due to the alleged abuse.

Mr Fokkes said footage captured the boy attending class four times per week and also presenting for a ceremony up until mid-December.

“There is a continuous recording of CCTV from early November right up until today,” he said. “He was there every day.”

The court heard Mr Barnes installed cameras in November, 2020 after he was accused of sexual assault by the family of another child, also a martial arts student, to ensure complaints “didn’t happen again”.

He pleaded not guilty to intentionally sexually touching a child under 16 at the same court on November 22.

Due to previous bail conditions banning him from being in the presence of anyone under 16, Mr Fokkes said his client now took a “hands-off approach” to his business and only works out of hours.

He had not been in contact with any students or children while on bail, his barrister said.

“It’s once bitten, twice shy,” Mr Fokkes said.

Mr Fokkes said the family of the new complainant had offered to act as a defence witness in his upcoming trial, but revoked that after being contacted by the first complainant’s family.

He said the child’s claim was a “glaring, black and white lie”.

“There are real concerns of the strength of the crown case. When children lie, it’s very difficult to keep the story straight,” Mr Fokkes said.

“There was no other witness … and it’s only come out after apparent collusion.”

The court heard evidence that the boy’s mother messaged Mr Barnes’s brother Robert, telling him he would be returning to class in February.

However, police allege that message was sent before the boy made disclosures to his mother about the alleged abuse after overhearing her speaking on the phone about classes.

Mr Barnes will be released to live at his Woodford home and must report to Parramatta police station seven days per week.

He will forfeit his passport and offered to forfeit $5000 if he fails to appear before the court.

He will next appear in Fairfield Local Court on January 20.

Anyone who has experienced a similar incident is encouraged to contact police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or online.

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