Toddler's rescue down to 'door knocking' - police

Basic ``door knocking'' by new police graduates has been credited for the rescue of the 2-year-old boy who was allegedly abducted by convicted killer and Napier man Phillip Layton Edwards in Auckland last night, police say.

Gabriel Witehira-Donnelly, the son of one of Edwards' friends, was found at the rear of an Oran Rd property in Panmure about 7.30pm by two police officers who were performing a door-to-door search.

Police said in a statement the officers managed to locate the toddler in a shed after hearing his cries through the rain.

``Thinking the child might still be in the company of the man who had taken him, they called for backup then retrieved the little boy from an open box he was crouching in.

``Access to the shed was not straightforward as the shed door was damaged and locked, although there was a gap between it and the frame,'' they said.

He was frightened and shivering but unharmed, police said.

Edwards, 33, is still on the run from police. An extensive manhunt is underway for the convicted killer, who was released from jail last year after serving a nine-year term for the manslaughter of fashion designer and former television host David McNee, 55.

A helicopter had also been employed to perform an aerial search.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard has asked members of the local Panmure community to check their outdoor areas for any sign of the 33-year-old.

``We ask people in the Panmure area that if they've got any unlocked sheds or shed on their property just to check to see whether there's any abandoned clothing, whether there's anybody sleeping rough there,'' he told TVNZ

``Obviously with the weather the way it is, we'd like to think he's still in the area, but we can't confirm that, but we need to eliminate that fact.''

Gabriel was allegedly taken at about 12.15pm yesterday from his mother's Coates Crescent property.

Edwards was last seen wearing a navy blue jersey, black jeans, white Nike shoes and carrying a grey hoodie.

Anyone who has seen him or suspects he may have been hiding near their property should contact police on 0800 332 334. Urgent information can also be reported to 111.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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