Nelson in shock over 'disgusting' attack

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 12:36 02/01/2013

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Nelson residents are shocked and upset at the news that a woman was violently attacked in the area on New Year’s Day.

Police said the 62-year-old woman was working alone in a shade house at the Victory community gardens about 2.30pm when she was seriously beaten and sexually assaulted by a man in his 20s.

The woman remains in hospital with substantial head and facial injuries, along with other lacerations and bruising to her body. Her injuries are not life-threatening.

Detective Sergeant Ian Langridge said police are seeking help from the public to identify him.

"This has been a cowardly and prolonged attack on an older woman. While I am confident we will identify the offender, I must urge people in the Victory area to take precautions about their personal safety until we have that person in custody," he said.

"This man clearly has issues that need to be addressed urgently. He is a risk to himself and the wider community and I strongly encourage him to hand himself in."

The offender is described as a dark skinned male, possibly Maori or Polynesian, in his early 20s with short hair and very distinctive tattoos. His left arm is fully tattooed from the shoulder to the wrist in a Maori or tribal design. His right arm is also tattooed from the shoulder to the elbow in what is believed to be a Maori or tribal design.

Many in the Victory area woke to news of the attack this morning. Many were out yesterday afternoon, while other houses were vacant, with many people away on holiday.

Others packing and leaving a nearby backpacker hostel today were unaware of the attack.

St John team manager Jon Leach said the woman moved herself to a safe place following the attack, and was picked up by St John Ambulance from a friend’s house, away from where the incident occurred.

Dylan Sexton, whose home overlooks where police were working, said the first he knew of the attack was when police came knocking at his door last night. The houses next to him on either side are vacant.

"The police came and talked to me, but they didn’t tell me what had happened, they just started asking questions. I then learned there had been a serious assault," Sexton said.

He said it was particularly upsetting if the attack had occurred in the gardens, as he often saw a lot of children playing there.

"It’s horrible. This community has been getting so much better.

"In 2010 it was Community of the Year, and now for something like this to happen – it's disgusting."

Ambulance staff stabilised her and took her to Nelson Hospital for treatment.

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- The Nelson Mail

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