Serious assaults mainly from 'people victims know'

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 19/03/2014

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Police investigating a series of violent assaults in Christchurch have netted four more suspects.

An 18-year-old was arrested on Monday night over a fight that spanned two houses in Riccarton early on Sunday.

A 23-year-old and a 17-year-old were arrested at the weekend for a Riccarton assault, where the victim was hit over the head with a spade. On Monday, a 16-year-old handed himself in over the same attack.

Its brings the arrest tally to six for the six violent attacks in the past month.

Since March 1, six men have been admitted to Christchurch Hospital's intensive care unit with serious head injuries after being assaulted by people they knew.

One man remains in intensive care, three are recovering in general wards, one was discharged after two days and Utupo Alfred Waterhouse, 20, died after a week in a coma.

The arrests relate to four of the six incidents.

Detective Senior Sergeant Darryl Sweeney said while police were making arrests, "that's not the point". "We'd rather not have them.

"Even a single blow to the head can kill or seriously maim someone. When these people arrive in hospital, there is a good chance they could die. It's a huge relief for us when they don't."

Sweeney said common factors in almost all of the assaults were alcohol, drugs, and that the alleged offenders and the victims knew each other. He said there were "spikes" in certain crimes from time to time.

Investigators were "looking at every aspect of how we could stop these things happening".

Where appropriate, they would refer the incidents to family violence services to follow-up.

Police family violence district manager Inspector Ross Lienert said people tended to react differently to people they knew, than strangers.

History, "baggage" and previous issues clouded their decision-making.

"Nine out of 10 people will be harmed by someone they know over someone they don't know," he said.

"Throw alcohol into the mix and people try to solve their problems in a violent way."

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- The Press

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