Community helps police to find girl's attacker

JONATHAN CARSON AND MATT BOWEN
Last updated 11:38 07/01/2013
CRIME SCENE: Police at Riverview Road Reserve at Cooks Beach  where a young girl was indecently assaulted.
PETER DRURY/ Fairfax NZ

CRIME SCENE: Police at Riverview Road Reserve at Cooks Beach where a young girl was indecently assaulted.

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Police investigating an indecent assault of a young girl by a naked man at a small Coromandel coastal settlement say they are receiving good cooperation from the local and wider community as they continue to seek the offender.

District Crime Manager, Detective Inspector Chris Page, said the investigation team had been helped by locals and visitors alike as they conducted their enquiries at Cooks Beach.

''Police were called to Cooks Beach at about 7.30pm on Saturday after a man exposed himself and indecently assaulted a five-year-old girl while she was walking with a seven-year-old cousin a short distance in front of family members on their way back from the beach,'' Page said.

''Members of the family and the public intervened and the man ran off, chased by a member of the public.''

Page said the naked man was not able to be caught and initial reports suggest he escaped in a silver hatchback car with slightly tinted windows at the back and this vehicle appeared to be about 10 years old.

The offender was described as a clean-shaven Caucasian male who had dark hair, and was carrying a red and yellow towel.  

''To date we have not had an updated description of the offender or the vehicle provided that we can provide the public with.''

Page said police were wanting to hear from anyone who may have seen, or been subjected to, a similar ''brazen'' act.

"If you have information, please contact Detective Gavin Hall at the Whitianga Police Station on 07 858 6200, or through your nearest police station."

Alternatively information could be left anonymously with Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

The Kiwi family of the young victim did not want to comment on the incident when approached at the scene yesterday.

However, they said they had never had any problems during many years spent holidaying in the area and thought nothing of letting the kids run ahead of them.

"Understandably the family and children are shaken up over the incident but the children are safe with their parents and the family are being provided Victim Support services," Page said.

The Riverview Road Reserve at the north end of the beach, where the assault occurred, was full of families playing and enjoying the sun after swimming in the surf yesterday.

Holidaymaker and father of one Tony, who only gave his first name, was there too.

He had heard snippets about the assault.

"It's pretty horrific," he said.

"This is a great little place for kids and families so when that sort of stuff happens it can't be good."

The south Aucklander has been spending holidays at the family bach for the past 20 years and said they had never had any problems, not even theft.

Like many other holidaymakers, he was walking along the beach when the girl was assaulted on Saturday night.

"You just try to keep [the kids] safe, but sometimes it doesn't quite work. It's such a small place so hopefully they find this guy."

Waikato police communications manager Andrew McAlley said police set up a checkpoint on the main road out of the area yesterday in an attempt to locate the offender.

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"There's only one route in so as police became aware of the situation they controlled the exits out to try and get information and to see if they could find the vehicle of interest."

He said there had been no other reports of similar incidents in the area.

- Waikato Times

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