Suspect in attacks on elderly arrested

Last updated 11:48 24/06/2013
IN CUSTODY: Police cordon off the area where William Murphy was arrested.
Caralise Trayes

IN CUSTODY: Police cordon off the area where William Murphy was arrested.

William Murphy
ARRESTED: William Murphy.
CRASH: A car believed to be stolen crashed after it was seen being driven at speed.
Caralise Trayes
CRASH: Inspector Tony Wakelin and the car that came to a stop down an alleyway alongside SH1 near Puhoi.

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A man wanted by police in connection with up to seven home invasions of elderly people in the Auckland area in the past week has been arrested this morning just north of Auckland.

Auckland shift commander Inspector Tony Wakelin said William John Murphy, 36, had allegedly tried to take a handbag from a woman in Warkworth this morning.

"She rang up the police, our units responded and saw him on the state highway, we tried to apprehend him and he rammed the patrol car.

"He has then taken off and he has driven down an alleyway beside the toll booth just north of the toll bridge where he has crashed into mangroves. He has then left the vehicle and ran along the waters edge and hid amongst the mangroves.

"Our police dog unit has turned up up and has tracked him about 500m and found him hiding into the water."

Wakelin said the man was cold having been in the water. 

Murphy would appear in the Auckland District Court either today or tomorrow and was likely to face a range of charges.


Meanwhile, police are warning older people not to "let their guard down" when it comes to personal security.

Detective Inspector Karyn Malthus of Auckland City CIB said the investigation into the attacks on elderly still had a long way to go and it was important people kept an open mind about the possibility more than one person was involved in some of the incidents.

"We remain concerned about the safety of our elderly being targeted and are yet to determine the identity of the offender purporting to be a police officer in various guises.

"We therefore urge communities to be cautious about cold-callers and to remain vigilant about personal security."


On Saturday at 8pm another elderly woman was bound, beaten and robbed in her Pakuranga home - a close-knit retirement village of nearly 30 units.

Neighbours of the woman described the extent of the attack.

"She was screaming, 'Help me, help me, I've been attacked'," said neighbour Patricia Sawers, the New Zealand Herald reported.

"Her face was absolutely covered in blood. It was just dropping down over her face. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It was absolutely terrifying."

"She told me what he did. She was picked up and thrown. She was all over the place. She fought him. She pleaded with him. But it didn't do any good."

The elderly victim in Saturday's attack was confronted by a man at her door, who said he was there to offer security advice.

He bound her hands with shoelaces and beat her viciously before stealing bank cards, cash and personal items.

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The daughter of the woman said the reality of the attack was just now starting to sink in.

Sylvie van de Geer said a friend has taken her mother to the doctor this morning.

"She definitely needs some sleeping pills and some anti-inflammatories. We have got smaller injuries which are coming up now, she has got a lot of stiffness in her neck.

"[The man] threw her around like you wouldn't believe. He has kicked her in the kidneys, he has just been wild with her so all of this bruising throughout her body is now starting to come out. The facial injuries came out straight away but the other bruising is now coming out on her body.

"It's horrific, it's absolutely horrific."

Van de Geer, a nurse, said her mother would stay with her for the meantime.

"She is vehemently against hospitals."

Van de Geer said she had taken it upon herself "as a mission" to highlight the need for security for elderly.

She said her mother would head back to live in the pensioner units where she was attacked.

"Mum doesn't have the finances [to live anywhere else]. At the end of the day this is mum's home, she has friends around her and why should one person have the power to take that away from my mum.

"Once it's cleaned out and everything has settled down and the council has changed its security she is going to go home quite happy. That's what we are working towards."


Similar attacks had happened in the suburbs of Remuera, Penrose, Orewa, Takapuna, Northcote, Herne Bay and Westmere since Monday.

In five of the cases, the offender gained entry to the house by claiming he was a police officer.

The neighbour who first came to her aid after the attack - Allen Clarke - shared the same concerns.

With some residents of the village pushing 100, Clarke said it was pure luck that someone had not been killed.

He had gone outside for a smoke after becoming bored watching the All Blacks test and saw the victim outside her unit, partially clothed, hands tied and calling for help.

Clarke recalled seeing blood around her nose and mouth and said it was a "scary situation".

Similar attacks had happened in the suburbs of Remuera, Penrose, Orewa, Takapuna, Northcote, Herne Bay and Westmere since Monday.

In five of the cases, the offender gained entry to the house by claiming he was a police officer.

Malthus said 20 staff from around the three Auckland police districts were working on Operation Lionel.

The offending started out as prowling but she said the great concern was how it had escalated over the course of the week.

- Fairfax Media

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