Neighbours fear further attacks after sexual assault

By Sam Hurley

Police investigate the scene of Sunday's sexual assault in Hastings. Photo/Warren Buckland.
Police investigate the scene of Sunday's sexual assault in Hastings. Photo/Warren Buckland.

A "horrendous" sexual assault on a teenage girl in Hastings has left neighbouring residents asking for increased security and fearing further attacks.

Police are investigating the sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl, who was walking through Cornwall Park with a friend at 8.30pm on Sunday. The pair parted company and the victim continued through the park alone.

Shortly after, the girl was accosted by two men and taken against her will to a secluded section of the park where she was assaulted.

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule described the assault as "horrendous" and expressed his sympathies to the victim and her family.

"Cornwall Park is a really beautiful park, and unfortunately there are some terribly deranged people out there that we need to catch," he said. "People need to be continually vigilant about their own personal safety, we can't be everywhere all the time and neither can the police.

"It's the school holidays and you want people, young people, to be using the parks for recreational activities. It's absolutely horrendous. Just tragic that a 14-year-old girl has been sexually assaulted."

A 69-year-old resident who lives adjacent to the park said a number of neighbours thought it wouldn't be long before a fight or assault took place in the council park.

"I've lived there just over two years and more people had been congregating in the park in the last two months.

"Since they've closed down the town during school holidays for kids to hang out, they have been coming down to the park.

"They are mainly girls and you hear them screaming and yelling some times, but most of the time it's nothing, and then you hear about something like this happening. It's horrible."

He said the homes around the park were mainly those of elderly people, who were "getting worried" at night.

"It's a real shame, it's such a beautiful park. But with all the trees it gets pretty dark here.

"The residents are getting concerned, we lock our doors and close our blinds at as soon as it gets dark.

"There needs to be better lighting, these kids shouldn't be out that late anyway, but an increased security presence and improved lighting around the park may stop future attacks like this."

He said he didn't hear or see the attack on Sunday night and was made aware of the attack when police knocked on his door at 10.30pm.

"Police continue to appeal to the public for any information that may assist them in piecing together what has occurred and any information that might lead to the identification of the offenders for this attack."

Inquiries continued yesterday while a scene examination also took place.

Police would like to hear from anyone who was in the area at the time.

Anyone with information who does not wish to be identified can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 and leave their information anonymously.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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