Police release sketch of Nelson rapist

WANTED: This computer sketch shows the 1.7m man wanted for a violent Nelson rape.
WANTED: This computer sketch shows the 1.7m man wanted for a violent Nelson rape.

A computer sketch of the man allegedly responsible for the brutal rape of a woman on New Year's Day has been released by police.

The 62-year-old woman was working alone in a shade house at the Victory Community Gardens when she was attacked about 2.30pm on Tuesday.

She was left with substantial head and facial injuries, along with other cuts and bruising to her body, in what police described as a ''cowardly and prolonged attack''.

The man is described as Maori or Pacific Islander, about 1.7 metres (5ft 6in) tall, with a short ''No 3'' haircut.

He has distinctive tattoos, one of which covers his arm from shoulder to wrist, while the other arm is tattooed from the shoulder to the elbow. The tattoos are described as ''tribal'' style.

''The face is something someone is going to recognise,'' Police spokeswoman Barbara Dunn said. 

Police are continuing the area canvass and maintaining high-profile patrols in the area.

Police were door-knocking homes and businesses in the Victory area yesterday to gather information that might lead to finding the man.

Senior Constable John O'Donovan said he was ''staggered'' by the level of concern shown by the community towards the woman and what had happened.

He said a lot of people had gone to the community police base in Victory concerned about the victim and offering to help in any way they could.

''There's been a lot of empathy shown, and people have said they're going to keep their ears and eyes open - young people too,'' he said.

''It's clear this has touched them and they hate that this has happened in their area.''

Detective Sergeant Ian Langridge said police had started interviewing the woman to gain further details that would help identify the attacker.

Police were waiting for the results of forensic analysis after a scene investigation by Environmental Science and Research scientists this week.

O'Donovan said there had not been such a serious crime in the area for a long time.

''The level of concern shown by the community is staggering. A lot of people don't know who the victim is, but young people have said this is an abhorrent, horrific act,'' he said.

''They say it's 'not narking' to tell on this guy. That's how badly it's affected people.''

O'Donovan said that in times like this a community would close together even more. The fact it was being talked about everywhere was positive.

Langridge remained confident the man would be identified, but in the meantime urged people in the Victory area to take precautions about their personal safety.

''We're still working through a suspect list of people matching the description given. We're getting lots of phone calls from the community,'' he said.

The crime scene is visible from a section of the Railway Reserve and police believe it is likely people would have been using the walkway as the attack occurred.

They would like to speak to anyone who was on or near the Railway Reserve on New Year's Day about 2.30pm and who may have seen or heard something relevant.

Those with information can call the Nelson police on (03) 546 3840. Anonymous information can be given by calling Crimestoppers, Ph 0800 555 111. A Freephone number has also been set up for people to call with information. That number is 0508 2674662.