Trick-or-treat teens attack former priest

By Sophie Ryan

An ex-priest was assaulted in an over-55s residential complex in Whangarei. Photo / Michael Cunningham
An ex-priest was assaulted in an over-55s residential complex in Whangarei. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Housing New Zealand is investigating the security of its houses in an over-55s complex in Whangarei following the assault of an 83-year-old man by trick-or-treating teenagers at his home.

Ronald Liddall, a former priest, let the two male teens into his home on Kaumatua Cres at 10.30pm on Sunday where they attacked him and hit him over the head with a porcelain tea pot.

Police said he was able to activate his medic alert alarm and a St John ambulance crew arrived and alerted the police.

Mr Liddall, who lives alone, was taken to hospital where it was discovered he had a broken nose and severe bruising to his face.

He is recovering at the home of his step-daughter.

The Advocate spoke to several residents of the Kaumatua Cres over-55 Housing New Zealand residential complex who had concerns over the security of their homes. Most of the residents were pensioners.

The front doors to the houses were solid wood and residents said they would like to see Housing New Zealand install peep-holes or security screens so visitors were able to be identified before residents opened their front doors.

Housing NZ area manager for Northland Don Roberton said he was working closely with the residents in the 21-home complex on Kaumatua Cres on how they can provide additional security for tenants.

"We were shocked and concerned to hear about this incident and moved quickly to provide support to our tenant who was assaulted in his home after letting the offenders into his home following their request for help," Mr Roberton said.

"We encourage our tenants not to open the door at strange times if they do not know who is calling and we inform tenants to ask for identification if someone knocks on their door claiming they work for Housing New Zealand," he said.

A neighbour, who is a good friend of Mr Liddall and didn't want to be named, said she never opened the door unless she was expecting someone.

She said Mr Liddall initially met the teenagers on Halloween (Thursday) when they knocked on his door trick-or-treating.

"They asked for money, and when Ron said he didn't have any they kept coming back," she said. "Maybe he was just too trusting."

Whangarei Police Detective Andrew Glendinning, who is investigating the assault, said it appeared as though the teens did not take anything from Mr Liddall's home.

"However I certainly believe that was their intention," he said.

Mr Glendinning said Mr Liddall had learned a very hard lesson.

He said the teens did not have weapons and anyone who sees any suspicious behaviour should notify police.

No arrests have been made, however, Mr Glendinning said there are suspects they are keeping an eye on.

- Northern Advocate

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