Police have spoken for the first time with a 9-year-old boy who they believe was abducted and assaulted after leaving Timaru's Oceanview Heights School on Thursday.
The boy remains in a stable condition in Timaru Hospital, where he was taken after a passer-by found him battered and distressed on Holme Station Bridge shortly after 4pm.
Medical professionals cleared police to speak directly to the child yesterday about what happened before he was found at the bridge. Details have not been released as to what, if any, information the child provided.
Investigators are still trying to find out how he arrived at the bridge, a distance of more than 15 kilometres by road.
"This is very unusual," Mid-South Canterbury area commander Inspector Dave Gaskin said. "I don't remember anything like this happening in Timaru before."
Police have not said whether they believe the boy was injured in a domestic incident or in an encounter with an acquaintance or a stranger.
"In an investigation like this it's very important for us to keep an open mind," Mr Gaskin said.
He would not elaborate on the extent of the child's injuries, nor the nature of them.
Meanwhile, police urged caregivers and schools to take extra safety precautions with children.
"If it was my child I'd be a bit more vigilant right now," Mr Gaskin said.
Police found the boy's backpack lying near Holme Station Bridge on Friday. A Christchurch team specialising in crime scene searches combed the bridge area at the weekend.
Investigators returned to the area yesterday to stop passing vehicles in hopes of turning up more leads.
They do not think the case is connected with reports of a man talking with children outside Waimataitai School last month, Mr Gaskin said.
The boy was described as being of dark complexion, slim build, about 30kg, with dark hair. He was considered small for his age and police described his height as more like that of a 6 or 7-year-old.
He was found wearing his school uniform: a dark-blue polar fleece, dark-blue shorts and a teal- green polo shirt.
He was found on the bridge shortly after 4pm on Thursday, after leaving Oceanview Heights School in Selwyn St at 3pm. It was his habit to walk home to Waimataitai after school.
Anyone who was near Oceanview Heights School or Holme Station Bridge during that time period should contact Timaru police on (03) 687 9808.
- The Timaru Herald