Sexual assault at protest camp

KEITH LYNCH
Last updated 16:46 09/12/2011
Occupy Christchurch camp

PROTEST CAMP: Occupy Christchurch has been camped in Hagley Park since October.

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Police have released a description of an unusually short man with a dog following the sexual violation of a teenager at the Occupy Christchurch site in Hagley Park.

A 15-year-old girl was attacked yesterday afternoon when she was visiting a friend who was staying at the camp.

She was not physically injured, but was left shaken by the incident.

Police are now seeking a man described as a short caucasian in his early 20s, who has been described as only 5ft tall, with pale skin, short brown hair and blue eyes.

He is believed to have had a brown staffordshire bull terrier with him.

Detective Sergeant Darryl Sweeney said police were contacted last night.

He said the site was secured overnight and a scene examination carried out this morning.

About six tents at the camp were cordoned this morning while detectives carried out a crime-scene investigation.

Attention appeared to centre on one tent and it is understood that up to 30 people at Occupy Christchurch were interviewed there last night.

Sweeney confirmed protesters were co-operating fully.

He said there was no indication that the offender was connected to the protest group.

"We are keen to hear from any members of the public who may have been in the vicinity of the Occupy site on Thursday afternoon and noticed any suspicious activity," he said.

Occupy protester Regan Stokes said he had spoken to other protesters and believed someone from outside the group may have been involved in the assault.

''Someone came from off-site. It sounds really horrible.''

Protester Kyle Peterson said bad elements came into the camp from time to time.

"Some are here just for themselves to come and do what they want,'' he said.

He said some were "treating it more like a hideout" and arrived between midnight and 4am after pubs closed.

Their presence had made some of the older protesters feel unsafe. He said there had been instances where drunk people had hassled them, and they had needed police help to make them leave.

The camp was set up by anti-capitalist protesters in October.

Anyone with information relevant to the assault can call Detective Sergeant Darryl Sweeney on 363 7400, or provide information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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