Lead in kidnap case

MEGAN MILLER
Last updated 05:00 21/11/2012
A specialist search team from Christchurch was searching the banks of  the Pareora River at Holme Station Bridge on Saturday.
ROSA STUDHOLME/Fairfax NZ
SITE SEARCH: A specialist search team from Christchurch was searching the banks of the Pareora River at Holme Station Bridge on Saturday.

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Investigators last night spoke with a Timaru man they believe could be connected with the suspected abduction and assault of a 9-year-old boy.

Police took the man to Timaru station to be interviewed, but he was not placed under arrest at that time, Mid-South Canterbury area commander Inspector Dave Gaskin said.

The "young man" was acquainted with the child but was not a relative, Mr Gaskin said. He would not provide the man's age or other details.

He said police were not seeking other individuals in their investigation.

Police spoke with the boy for the second time yesterday, but he provided only a small amount of information, Mr Gaskin said.

Investigators pieced together details provided by the public, both in Timaru and in the rural area along Holme Station Rd where the boy was found.

Mr Gaskin thanked members of the public who had come forward to assist with the investigation.

"Though those small details in themselves didn't mean a great deal, when the investigative team was able to analyse it all, it painted a fairly clear picture," he said.

Investigators were likely to continue to be in touch with the boy, but no further formal interviews were planned.

Mr Gaskin also thanked the small team of investigators who "worked long hours doing tedious work" to piece together elements of the case.

The boy remained in Timaru Hospital last night in stable condition, with injuries to his mouth and jaw.

He was found at Holme Station Bridge at 4.20pm on Thursday, after leaving Oceanview Heights School in Selwyn St about 3pm. He was last seen at the corner of Selwyn St and Luxmoore Rd.

The boy had been known to "go missing" at times after leaving school, Mr Gaskin said, but declined to elaborate.

Investigators first spoke with the boy on Monday in a "preliminary interview . . . [to establish] rapport," Mr Gaskin said.

"Interviewing children is always a difficult task and it's going to take time to get the truth as to exactly what happened."

The boy's injuries did not prevent him from talking, and he did engage with police, Mr Gaskin said.

Police also spoke yesterday with a Selwyn St woman who told media that she'd seen a man photographing children at Oceanview Heights School on the same day that the boy disappeared. Mr Gaskin said the information she provided did not appear to be relevant to the investigation.

The investigation has put additional strain on the already-stretched resources of Timaru's criminal investigation staff.

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The department is handling several serious crime investigations that have occurred in recent months.

Staff had been pulled from other investigations to focus on the abduction case, Mr Gaskin said.

He said he had not requested additional assistance from Christchurch, aside from enlisting the help of a team specialising in crime-scene searches that combed the Holme Station Bridge area at the weekend.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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