Police are looking for a tattooed man who viciously beat and raped a 62-year-old Nelson woman.
Police said the victim was working alone in a shade house at the Victory Community Gardens about 2.30pm on New Year's Day when she was attacked by a man in his 20s. The woman remains in hospital with substantial head and facial injuries, along with cuts and bruising to her body. Her injuries are not life-threatening.
Detective Sergeant Ian Langridge said Nelson police were seeking help from the public to identify the culprit.
"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."
The scene where the attack occurred is visible from a popular public walkway and police believe it is likely people would have been using the walkway as the woman was raped.
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 tattooed from the shoulder to the wrist in a Maori or tribal design. His right arm is tattooed from the shoulder to the elbow.
St John ambulance team manager Jon Leach said yesterday the woman had moved herself to a safe place following the attack, and was picked up by paramedics from a friend's house.
He added the woman had moderate to serious facial injuries. She had been stabilised and taken to Nelson Hospital.
Victory residents have reacted to the attack with shock and anger. Jenner Rd resident Dylan Sexton, whose home overlooks the crime scene, said the first he knew of the attack was when police came knocking at his door.
"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. "It's disgusting."
He said it was particularly upsetting if the attack had occurred in the gardens, as he often saw children playing there.
"In 2010 it was Community of the Year, and now for something like this to happen - it's disgusting."
- Fairfax Media