A vile masseur who sexually assaulted a client during a full body massage has been jailed.

Zahir Bhimani told the woman to take off all the clothes on her lower body, including her underwear before assaulting her.

The woman was left  with ‘unbearable’ anxiety and “paranoid someone else would sexually assault her”.

Bhimani was running a massage business from his home in Coundon, Bishop Auckland when the he attacked the woman in September of 2021.

He denied a charge of sexual assault but was found guilty following a trial. He will spend the next three-and-a-half years behind bars.

His brave victim said, “I lost trust in the human race, especially males. It made me feel unsafe in the world.

“More recently I have struggled to sleep alone due to anxiety, and I have started having nightmares about things related to the case.

“I struggle with relationships and socialisation because I now assess the world in terms of danger and my safety.

“I mostly don’t go anywhere alone that could make me unsafe, meaning my independence has gone now. My anxiety became unbearable whenever I tried to do something alone, so I gave up trying.”

Bhimani was placed on the sex offender register and handed a sexual harm prevention order.

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Detective Toni Bibby who investigated the case, said: “Bhimani used his position to exploit a paying customer while she was at her most vulnerable for his own sexual gratification.

“The incident had a profound effect on the victim, who has shown enormous strength throughout the police investigation and subsequent court process.

“Hopefully this conviction will go some way in enabling her to move forward with her life knowing that her voice has been heard, and her abuser is behind bars.”