One girl short of a picnic

01:43, Jan 31 2009

The mystery of a deserted picnic that baffled police for a week has been solved – it was abandoned after a failed attempt by a would-be Romeo to impress his girl.

The picnic setting was found by a kayaker last Thursday set out under a tree near the shore of Rotorua's Lake Tikitapu.

Police suspected possible foul play when a red rug, laid out with a wicker basket, newspaper, barbecue lighter and perishable food was found.

The mystery was solved yesterday when a Rotorua man explained all.

Paul Fowler, a salesman, said he had arranged to meet "Emily" for a picnic but the rendezvous did not go to plan. The woman, not realising the efforts made to win her heart, had stood him up. "I set up the surprise picnic and went to her place to get her but she was with friends somewhere else," he said. The pair met up later, but by then it was too dark for a picnic.

Mr Fowler said he forgot about "the picnic" till a newspaper article jogged his memory. "It's pretty much the most embarrassing moment of my life. I'm not naturally romantic . . . I'd been seeing Emily for a while and wanted to do something memorable."

The pair eventually had a picnic a few days later, he said.

Detective Sergeant John Wilson said though police were preparing a large-scale search of the area, no charges would be laid as it was essentially a "lost property" case.

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