May 2016

Nail technician jailed for sexually assaulting two teenage customers

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A sexual predator has been locked up for four years and six months today after he sexually assaulted two young customers in his nail salon.

Today, one of his victims, an 18-year-old student who cannot be named for legal reasons, was in court to see him jailed after he subjected her to an hour-long sex assault in the basement of his shop.

The teenager told how Minh Chi Lam, 58, tricked her into coming to his nail salon after opening hours, exposed himself to her and sexually assaulted her twice.

The victim said she was too terrified to escape from Lam who became aggressive towards her, and only allowed her to leave when she promised to return the next day.

She said she had visited the salon in Hackney for the past two years ahead of special occasions.

Lam had passed her his number so that she could book an appointment over the telephone, and he convinced her to come in at 7.30pm on March 11 so that he could get her alone in the shop.

She said: “I normally got my nails done there and the line was quite long, and [Lam] had told me to take his number so that when I wanted to get my nails done I wouldn’t have to wait.”

The victim said she arrived at the nail bar she had previously visited only to find it had closed down and moved to another location nearby – the reason for the move was that Lam had been arrested over a sex offence at the original premises.

Lam, a British citizen originally from Vietnam, was on court bail after he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old woman at Supreme Boutique, Amhurst Road, on July 6, 2015. 

The victim went to the new salon, which did not have a name but was situated at 221 Mare Street, Hackney, just five minutes away.

“When I got there he was outside smoking and told me to come back later. I went to the library to do some schoolwork and when I came back later and went downstairs there was no one there, just me and him,” she said.

”I asked where the other ladies were that do hair there and he said they’d gone home or gone to a party.”

She said that at first she had a normal conversation with Lam, of Myrtle Street, Hackney, in which he asked her about her school work.

She said Lam then asked her to move closer to him, telling her he needed to work on her nail.

However, she said she began to feel uncomfortable when he started to talk about sex and asked her about her sex life.

“He was telling me about things he’d done with other girls,” she said.

“He said they often did sexual things with him so they didn’t have to pay to get their nails done.”

He also questioned why the victim always visited the salon in baggy clothes, saying “I’d just like to see your body.”

The victim said she began to feel unhappy with the situation and moved further away from Lam. 

However, she said he then became very aggressive before sexually assaulting her.

The predator then told her “I like young girls, especially ones around your age.”

The victim said she asked Lam to stop, and got up to leave, but when she went to a sink to wash her hands he assaulted her again.

“I wanted to leave the basement, but I was really scared,” she said. “He carried on doing my nails but it was really awkward.”

The victim said Lam then exposed himself and propositioned her.

The teenager finally managed to escape the salon at about 9pm, only by promising Lam she would come back tomorrow.

She then rang her boyfriend in tears, who told her to call the police.

“I was very shocked,” she said. “It’s not like I didn’t know him, I’d been coming there for my nails and I never thought he would be the guy that would do that to me.

“During that time I wasn’t really turning up to college, to lessons. My schoolwork had reduced and I had to retake work I missed.

“I found it really difficult to sleep at night, I would get flashbacks, hear noises. [During the attack] he was laughing and I would hear it over and over again.

“I don’t live far [from the salon] and I could feel his presence around. My relationship went a bit rocky, I found it hard to go out and just live a normal life.

“My confidence went so low, I hated myself, I felt like I could have done a lot more to stop him. I was keeping myself to myself, staying at home, avoiding contact with even my mum. I just basically hibernated.

“Just now have I been able to come out and get back to the way I was before.”

The teen said she has had her nails done again once since, saying: “I’m the type of person who likes to go out, get my hair and makeup done.

“I struggled, I felt like from the outside people could read what was going on in my life, I felt quite paranoid.

“I got my nails done once again but the experience felt really uncomfortable and I don’t think I would again.”

Today the victim said she was relieved to see Lam admit to his sickening crimes in court, as she feared she would not be believed.

“It was a bit surreal; it was a bit of a relief as well. Before I didn’t think it was quite real, until I got into the sentencing.

“As a young woman I see things happening on the news when a woman does come to the police and say things like this had happened and things don’t really get solved.

“When he did plead guilty it made me feel I did tell the truth, they did believe what I was saying.”

Lam was sentenced today at Wood Green Crown Court after previously pleading guilty to one count of sexual assault by penetration and two counts of sexual assault.

The sentence handed down today encompasses both incidents.