Attack victim 'put up a struggle'

01:43, Jan 31 2009

An elderly Chinese woman who died after being assaulted in her home may have put up a struggle and scratched her attacker, police say.

Detective Inspector Mark Gutry said Yin Ping Yang, 80, had tried to get to the phone before succumbing to the June 9 attack.

"It appears she may have at some stage put up as much of a struggle as she could. Which at her age wasn't much. He [her attacker] may have been scratched or injured in the assault."

It was becoming clearer that the motive for the attack was burglary, Mr Gutry said.

"It is certainly looking less likely that this is a sexual attack. There is only evidence of a physical attack, a significant and brutal physical attack."

Mrs Yang's son and daughter-in-law owned a business and there was cash hidden in the house. However, the money stash was not immediately obvious and was not taken. Nor were two jars containing about $200 in coins.

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Though police had not ruled out the possibility of a random attack, Mr Gutry said he believed the attacker went there for a reason.

"It could be that someone has been hanging around this area and cased this house out," he said.

Police issued identikit pictures yesterday of two men seen regularly walking down the driveway to Ms Yang's house in the month before the attack, and of a third man also seen in the area acting suspiciously. One of the three wore a distinctive black jacket with the number 89 in blue on the back.

Police have visited 680 houses and spoken to about 2000 people in the past two weeks.

Detective Constable John Clark said their inquiries had revealed some suspicious characters had been seen in the area.

"These people, I believe, are more likely someone trying to burgle houses in the area," he said.

When found on properties, they would offer various excuses for being there, saying their car had broken down, they needed petrol and even that they were looking for their dog.

Some posed as door-to-door salesmen, in particular carpet cleaners, Mr Clark said.

Mr Gutry warned people, particularly the Asian community, not to keep large amounts of cash at home.

If people knew it was there or thought it was there it might prompt a burglary, he said.

"We have a good banking system in New Zealand which has lots of integrity. If you've got money put it in the bank."

 

The Dominion Post