Police look into Facebook rumours over attack on woman

By Matthew Backhouse, news@dailypost.co.nz, Katee Shanks

Police investigating the brutal bashing of a 71-year-old Kawerau woman have looked into social media rumours as they narrow down their hunt for the attacker.

The victim suffered severe facial injuries when an intruder barged into her home after she opened her front door in the early hours of December 29.

Her car was stolen in the attack but later recovered.

Many people within the mill town have taken to social media sites to vent their frustration over the incident. One Facebook page displayed the name of a 17-year-old accused of being responsible for the attack.

Detective Inspector Tim Anderson confirmed police had looked into rumours on social media sites.

He said there were always rumours around any investigation but without evidence, police could not put someone before the courts.

"That sort of stuff, some of it can detract from an investigation. In this case, it probably hasn't helped or hindered us," Mr Anderson said. "Generally speaking, though, social media is a great outlet - it's another good channel of information that we can use, and we do like it."

He said police had identified a person of interest thanks to information from the public.

However, they were still awaiting the results of a forensic examination of the woman's car.

"We hope to have a resolution for this matter, and we're very thankful for the assistance and information provided by the community, mainly in Kawerau."

Mr Anderson said the victim was a strong woman who was "determined to get along with things in a positive fashion, despite the ordeal".

She was scheduled for surgery in Waikato Hospital in the next week or so.

A spokesperson for the woman said she needed to have titanium plates inserted into both eye sockets. She also required medical attention for a split left ear, a shattered tooth socket and a fractured jaw.

The victim has been given home baking, and offers of lawnmowing and gardening have flooded in, with many more people asking what they could do to help.

Bunnings Warehouse in Whakatane has offered to donate and install a digital door viewer.

The viewer, disguised as a peephole, provides a sweeping view of the scene outside and takes a photo once the doorbell is activated.

Bunnings said it would also donate a new front door if the woman's door was not suitable.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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