Baby dangled from car sparks police hunt

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 13:35 22/07/2014

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A baby was shoved outside a moving car in an incident that a senior Waikato police officer described as ''disturbing''.

An off-duty officer called 111 after seeing the ''upset'' infant halfway outside a car's rear window in the Hamilton suburb of Nawton at about 5pm yesterday, Waikato Police communications manager Andrew McAlley said.

The car, with four people inside, was travelling south along Avalon Drive near the intersection with Ellicot Rd at the time.

''However, the short time after calling in the job the off-duty officer lost sight of the vehicle,'' McAlley said.

It was last seen at the five-exit roundabout at the southern end of the Avalon Drive bypass.

''One of the passengers saw our staff member showing interest in the vehicle and gave them the fingers. The baby appeared to be about nine months old and appeared upset. It was being held on the rear driver's side passenger's lap and had the baby's body half out of the window.''

Police are actively investigating the incident and are treating it ''very seriously'', district road policing manager, Inspector, Freda Grace said.

''Cleary that's quite upsetting and disturbing if the allegation is correct,'' She said.

''Because babies are our most vulnerable in the community and they rely on their adult caregiver to provide the necessaries of life. I'm really disappointed if that allegation turns out to be as it was reported.''

On the face of it, it was ''quite upsetting''.

The child was ''reported to be in a distressed state''.

''We want people to report those incidents to us so we can actively follow them up,'' Grace said.

''This one is being actively investigated and we will take appropriate action when we apprehend the person. A lot of that is ensuring people understand their responsibilities and ensuring they have the proper knowledge to do what they are supposed to.''

It was also ''disappointing'' that the child was unrestrained.

''It's about safety because they are particularly vulnerable physically. An adult may come away from a crash with no injuries but a child unrestrained may not.''

There are agencies, such as Plunket, who are ''enthusiastic about ensuring our children are properly restrained''.

''If you wanted or needed advice on how to restrain children properly in approved devices, it's available at any Plunket room.''

Grace said the incident is ''very serious''. However it was too early to comment on penalties.

''It may be not having a child in an approved restraint but it could be something far more serious.''

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The registration number on the vehicle was noted yet the car did not match up with the records.

It was described as a Toyota Celica hatchback, grey in colour, about a 1989 model.

At this stage police believe the vehicle is linked to a Te Awamutu address.

Anybody who witnessed the incident or has further information is urged to contact police on 07-858-6200.

Alternatively, information can be left anonymously with the independent Crimestoppers line on 0800 555111.

- Stuff

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