Hitch-hiker escapes after sexual assault

SALLY KIDSON
Last updated 13:00 19/02/2013

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Police are investigating a sexual assault in the Maitai Valley, but do not believe it is connected to two recent sexual attacks in central Nelson.

In the latest attack a 21-year-old woman was hitch-hiking from Richmond to Nelson on Friday and was picked up by a man in his 70s.

The man said his name was John.

A police spokeswoman said instead of dropping the woman near the hospital, he locked the car and drove her to the Maitai Valley near Sharlands Creek where she was sexually assaulted.

The woman managed to escape when the man got out of the car and she ran back down the Maitai Valley towards Nelson to get help.

Police are appealing to the public for any information in relation to the incident.

The car was described as a red 90s model Nissan hatchback with a black stripe on the doors. The driver "John" was clean shaven, had short grey hair and was wearing a white t-shirt, cargo shorts and sneakers. He was about 170cm tall and said he suffered from arthritis. He had a brace on one knee.

The victim was wearing a white top, black pants, a cardigan and jandals.

Police are appealing for anyone who was in the Maitai Valley on Friday, in the late morning or early afternoon, who saw either the vehicle or the victim to call Nelson Police on 546 3840.

This is the fourth sexually motivated attack in Nelson City this year. An 18-year-old woman was raped near Queen's Gardens on February 3, by a man she described as skinny, aged 20 to 25, and Caucasian with short-cropped hair.

A woman in her 40s was attacked near Normanby Bridge on February 7. The offender was described as Caucasian, about 170cm (5ft 7in) tall. He was of medium build, with short hair, and was thought to be in his 20s. He was wearing dark blue baggy jeans which had a tear on the seat, and a grey, long-sleeved hoodie with a zip up the front. She managed to fight her attacker off, but police believe that attack was also sexually motivated.

On New Year's Day a 62-year- old woman was raped at the Victory Community Gardens.

Nelson fisheries worker Hilton Hone Heke has been charged with a number of offences in relation to that rape and assault. He reappeared briefly in the Nelson District Court yesterday and has been remanded without plea until May.

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