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Australia Today

A Man Burned Down a Canberra Massage Parlour Because it 'Smelled Like Semen'

The 37-year-old has now been sentenced to 20 months in prison.
Gavin Butler
Melbourne, AU
Massage table
Image via Shutterstock

The massage parlour industry has something of a smutty reputation. Maybe it’s the fact most parlours are situated in backstreets and open until 1 AM, or maybe it's just a big misunderstanding. But whatever the case, it seems reasonable that some clients think twice about laying on the massage table.

One such person is a 37-year-old man who's admitted to burning down a Canberra massage parlour because he thought it “smelt [sic] like semen.” Andrew John Richardson was arrested last year after setting fire to Jenn’s Magic Massage in the south Canberra suburb of Phillip, the ABC reports, after being identified via CCTV footage. Authorities suggested at the time that the fire was caused by an object that had been set alight and thrown through a window. The blaze reportedly caused significant damage to the building, and resulted in losses of both equipment and trade.


In a sentence handed down this week, Justice Michael Elkaim noted that Andrew didn’t appear to have any particular reason for targeting the massage parlour, but said that certain clues could be found in comments he made during a pre-sentence doctor’s report, The Canberra Times reports.

"I was having a bad night, not hearing voices, was not sleeping," Andrew reportedly said. "I was agitated, walked in there one time and it smelt bad, of semen."

Andrew has previously been diagnosed with schizophrenia, Tourette’s, and a history of depression. Justice Elkaim said that "There was clearly a degree of premeditation but it is very apparent that his mental health issues were also at play." The defendant pleaded guilty to arson, and was ultimately handed a jail sentence of 20 months, to be suspended after 15.

Justice Elkaim noted that it was hard to know whether Andrew is likely to reoffend, without knowing why exactly he committed the crime in the first place. “One can only assume that the crime was precipitated by his mental health issues," he said. "The authors of the pre-sentence report have assessed him as having a low to medium risk of reoffending."

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