Anna Leask

Anna Leask is a police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Tip-off from UK in RSA attacker hunt

Police are seeking information to help identify  a masked man who assaulted a woman  at the Hobsonville RSA. Photo / Supplied
Police are seeking information to help identify a masked man who assaulted a woman at the Hobsonville RSA. Photo / Supplied

Police investigating the brutal bashing of a woman during a robbery at the Hobsonville RSA last week are following up tips on his identity from members of the public, one from the UK.

They hope to work with a police profiler this week to build a clearer picture of the robber.

The female manager of the Hobsonville RSA was punched, beaten, dragged and tied up by a man wearing a Halloween mask on Friday morning.

The vicious robbery happened 10 years to the day after William Bell murdered three people and left a fourth barely clinging to her life at the Mt Wellington RSA.

Friday's robbery took place two hours before a 10-year anniversary ceremony was due to start at the Mt Wellington club.

Police released security camera images of the Hobsonville attacker and have received calls from the public offering information about his identity.

Acting Detective Senior Sergeant Andy King was also following up an email from a man in the UK who thought he recognised the attacker and gave his name and information about other criminal offending.

The email was initially sent to the Herald from an expatriate who read about the robbery on the newspaper's website.

He said the attacker looked like his former lodger. He named the man and gave details about where he lived in West Auckland.

"Obviously I can't be sure but it sure looks like him from the size and the shoes. This is something he would do and he's wanted by the police at the moment.

"I could be wrong but I showed the pic to my partner and she agrees that it sure looks like him."

The victim was at the club alone when the man bashed her and tied her up. She managed to escape, but Mr King said the attacker caught her, beat her about the face with his fist and tied her up again.

He then stole cash and coins and fled. The injured woman was found by a cleaner at about 9.30am.

"She's doing okay but she's pretty traumatised," Mr King said.

The woman was recovering at home with family and was not ready to speak about the incident.

Mr King said there was nothing to directly link the robbery with the 2001 RSA murders but a connection had not been ruled out.

"I believe it's probably a coincidence. It has all the hallmarks of being something completely out of the blue," he said.

"But, who knows, he could have links to William Bell. We're keeping an open mind as to that possibility.

"At the end of the day, it was 10 years to the day of the RSA murders. That is something we will keep in mind as the investigation goes forward."

The attacker was described as a Maori man in his 30s, with a stocky build. He was wearing a black hoodie, black jeans and a white and green mask.

Police want to hear from anyone who saw any suspicious behaviour in the area of the RSA before 8am on Friday.

- NZ Herald

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