When a young woman was found partially clothed, injured and panicked in rural West Auckland, it was clear something horrendous had happened to her.

But what? And where?

Police had a major 'whodunnit' on their hands.

A jury in the High Court at Auckland has today heard details of what led police to arrest and charge Colin Jack Mitchell with the abduction and assault of a 23-year-old woman in February last year.

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Mitchell is on trial following the assault, which allegedly happened at a quarry in Riverhead, West Auckland, soon after he picked the young woman up in Grey Lynn in the early hours of the morning.

This morning the jury heard the Crown's theory about what happened to the woman, and were told how and why Mitchell was fingered as the suspect.

Mitchell has pleaded not guilty to charges of abduction, wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and assault with intent to commit sexual violation.

His trial is expected to last three weeks.

Crown Prosecutor Kirsten Lummis told the court what happened after the victim, who will give evidence this afternoon, was found by police.

The officer who located her, bloodied and beaten and frantic, returned to the site the next day.

Constable Kelvin Meek had finished his shift but the case was on his mind and he drove to the place where he found the 23-year-old in his own private vehicle.

He wanted to find that crime scene and had a feeling it was close by.

Meek hunted around the area and while scouring the quarry for signs of a struggle, found what he thought was the place the victim was attacked.

He found a pair of shoes that matched a description of the victim's footwear, a cellphone and a glove lying in the dirt.

He alerted police and the area was cordoned off, the items removed for forensic testing.

Police started gathering CCTV footage and spotted a silver Ford Mondeo coming in and out of the quarry within a 15-minute period.

The vehicle was seen speeding away from the quarry at about the same time as the victim managed to call 111 - at 2.01am.

Police would later find footage of a car they also believe to be Mitchell's in the Great North Road area, extremely close to where the victim was last seen on similar cameras.

When the glove found by Meek was tested by forensic experts, DNA was found.

That DNA would later be linked to Mitchell.

The jury will hear more about that DNA matching and linking process later in the trial.

Police were already hunting all owners of silver Ford Mondeo cars and were able to narrow the search with the DNA information.

The search led them to Mitchell - a truck driver who lived alone in Onehunga.

Mitchell's car had a mobility parking permit in the front windscreen and police believed the same permit could be seen in the car captured on CCTV footage on Great North Road.

Police were dispatched to speak to Mitchell, who denied being anywhere near the victim or the quarry on the night of the alleged attack.

During a search of his home, police took a toothbrush which, after being forensically tested, showed DNA that matched the sample found on the glove.

"Armed with what appeared to be footage of car and possible DNA link to the crime scene, police arrested Mitchell on the 12th of March," Lummis told the jury.

THE RIVERHEAD ATTACK: WHAT ALLEGEDLY HAPPENED

Lummis earlier outlined what happened to the victim the night she was assaulted.

"Most of the time Mr Mitchell is a law-abiding citizen," Lummis said.

He was active in his local RSA, where the Herald revealed last year he held the role of president.

He worked as a truck driver - employed by the same company for 20 years.

He lived on his own and appeared to be a regular member of the community.

"But Mr Mitchell also has a dark sinister side, a side that only comes out in the dark of
night," Lummis said.

"At night, Mr Mitchell turns into a prowler, picking up women - young women - on their own late at night."

Lummis said Mitchell's purpose was to sexually assault the women, to control them and assert power over them.

She said the 23-year-old "was lucky enough to escape before she was raped" by Mitchell.

Lummis outlined what the Crown alleges happened to the victim - at the hands of
Mitchell - in February last year.

The victim and her friends had planned to go to the Pride Parade.

She went to a friend's house on the way and drank around half a bottle of wine, perhaps more.

The victim and her friends went to Chapel, a bar on Ponsonby Rd, and then crossed the road to have dinner at Mexico.

She drank "glittery cocktails" and some tequila.

"It's fair to say she drank too much," said Lummis.

"She has no memory of her movements at all after she left Ponsonby Road."

Lummis said her failure to remember could also be related to being struck around the head by her attacker.

After the Pride Parade, the victim and her friends made for Karangahape Road to carry on their celebrations.

CCTV showed the victim walking along with a man she met that night, heading to meet with her mates who had gone on ahead.

"When you look at the footage tracking her it will be obvious to you that she was under the influence of alcohol," said Lummis.

The victim can be seen stumbling, leaning on the man for support and using her phone to check in with her friends.

She got to Ink, a bar on K Rd, where her friends were but was denied entry as she was deemed too intoxicated.

The victim was captured on CCTV sitting outside the bar trying to sober up.

That footage will be played to the jury later in the trial.

The 23-year-old then walked across the road to get a kebab, and then appears to start
walking home.

She had no idea what was about to happen to her.

PATHS COLLIDE: THE VICTIM MEETS HER ALLEGED ATTACKER

As the victim started to walk home, the Crown allege Mitchell was leaving his home in Onehunga, driving his silver Ford Mondeo.

While Mitchell told police he did leave home that night, he denies going to the city.

He claims he drove to the nearby Onehunga waterfront to bathe his legs.

His legs were sore, he said, and he put them in the water to soothe his pain.

But Lummis said cellphone data placed Mitchell in the Mount Eden area at the same time as the victim was making her way down Great North Road in Grey Lynn.

Lummis said the cellphone data was one of a number of strands of evidence that the
Crown said pointed to Mitchell as the attacker.

As the victim walked along Great North Road she was captured on a series of CCTV cameras.

A car the Crown say was Mitchell's was also captured.

At 1.12am the woman was seen near the McDonald's restaurant and at the same time Mitchell's car is seen turning onto Great North Road and travelling towards her.

Minutes later it is alleged that he pulled her into his car and drove her 25km away to a quarry in Riverhead.

Lummis said it was unclear if the victim got into the car willingly, perhaps accepting a ride home, or whether she had been hauled into it by her attacker.

But the latter seemed more likely.

"Whatever the case, the Crown case is that Mr Mitchell then drove her a further 25km
towards Riverhead, to a stone quarry in an industrial area," said Lummis.

"The quarry is used to dump concrete, the entrance is down a gravel road ... a place that's going to be deserted at night, it's well off the beaten track.

"It's not a place the victim had been before or a place she wanted to go."

Lummis said it was not clear if the victim was conscious during the trip.

"She could have been asleep for some of journey, this may well have been what led Mr

Mitchell to look for somewhere he could guarantee he wouldn't be disturbed," she told the jury.

CCTV footage at the quarry showed a car, believed to be a silver Ford Mondeo, entering and exiting the quarry within a 15-minute period.

The victim does not remember much of the attack, but what she does recall enabled the
Crown to form a strong theory about what happened that morning.

"She recalls a man standing over her with a white mask on, holding some sort of bat ... a softball bat or a baseball bat ... it may have been a pool cue - we may never know," Lummis said.

"We know she got out of the car and her dress was taken off."

It was unclear whether the attacker took the dress off or if the victim did so under duress.

She was then hit a number of times around the head with the weapon.

She blacked out, and when she came to she felt blood on her head.

"She saw a masked man standing over her telling her to turn around," Lummis revealed.

"She refused, tried to talk him out of it.

"She said to him 'you don't have to be this person'.

"He continued to threaten her with the object, he called her a stupid bitch."

The Crown alleges that when the victim did not comply with Mitchell, he hit her around
the head again.

Her next memory was "scrambling over the gravel yard on the phone to 111".

That call was made at 2.01am, the exact same time the silver car was seen leaving the quarry.

During the 111 call the victim was panicked, the court heard.

"From CCTV footage we know now that Mitchell left the scene at 2.01am but at the time she called she didn't know that," Lummis alleged.

"She didn't know where she was or where the person attacking her was.

"She had very little information she could give police ... there was an hour of panic as they tried to locate her.

"Then she scrambled over the gravel, onto the road was able to give street directions to police, who sent someone to pick her up."

Lummis told the jury they would be shown photographic evidence of the victim in the back of the ambulance, and of her injuries.

"The police quickly started an extensive 'whodunnit' investigation," Lummis said.

But it was going to be hard work - they had no idea where the attack on the victim took
place, or who was behind the violence.