'Bloody animal' attack not the first

01:43, Jan 31 2009

A man described as a "bloody animal" after he attacked a cyclist and threw her off a bridge may have made similar attacks in the same area earlier this year, police say.

A 63-year-old woman was riding alone across a footbridge through Waiatarua Reserve in Auckland's suburban Remuera yesterday morning when the man approached her and began punching her.

He picked her up and threw her from the bridge into the water three metres below, then dropped her bike on top of her.

The water, which was shallow enough for her to stand in, broke her fall and she was able to clamber out.

The woman suffered a bloody nose, a back injury and scratches to her legs, but police said she was lucky to be alive.

"This is a callous, vicious attack by a bloody animal... we're lucky there was no serious injury," Detective Sergeant Jason McIntosh of the Auckland crime squad told the New Zealand Herald.

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In a statement this afternoon police say they have been made aware of three other, similar, attacks on men by a man in the area since mid-January.

On January 13, an American tourist was punched in the head as he walked in Michael's Avenue Reserve, only a short distance from yesterday's attack where the 63-year-old woman was attacked.

A couple of days later - on January 18 - a male cyclist was knocked off his bike during an unprovoked attack by a stocky Maori or Polynesian man in Koraha St.

The injured cyclist called police and followed his attacker into nearby Abbott's Way but lost sight of him there.

Police say they attended both incidents but could not find any sign of the attacker.

None of the victims were robbed.

As recently as Saturday - March 8 - an elderly man was punched and knocked out as he walked in Waiatarua Reserve at about 7.15pm.

He did not see his attacker so was unable to provide police with a description.

Detective Sergeant Mark Rowbottom, says it's likely the attacker lives locally and will strike again if not caught.

"The woman attacked yesterday morning is understandably traumatised by her hideous experience and, among other injuries, has suffered a fractured eye socket for which she will need further medical attention," Mr Rowbottom says.

"Anyone who has any idea who this man is should contact the Glen Innes CIB as soon as possible before we're dealing with something even more serious."

He was described as a fat Maori or Pacific Islander in his 30s about 193cm tall.

Fairfax Media