Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Zealand: Young German Couple Viciously Attacked by Assailants in Whakatane

According to http://www.stuff.co.nz, four teenagers appeared in court earlier today (December 27) charged with a vicious assault on a young German couple in their late teens in Whakatane which police have described as "appalling and mindless."

The German couple had been camping in a reserve when they were viciously assaulted.

Police spokeswoman Kim Perks said the teenagers had been camping near a skate park off the intersection of Beach Street and McAlister Road road when they were attacked without provocation. The reserve is not a designated camp ground, but locals report it has always been safe.

The couple, a 19-year-old man and 18-year-old woman spent the night in Whakatane Hospital recovering from their injuries. The man suffered bruising, lacerations and the loss of several teeth, while the woman suffered facial injuries and fractures to her arm.

COMMENT: With the assistance of police in Whakatane, the couple was able to speak to their parents in Germany from their hospital beds.

Four assailants, some even younger than their victims, have been arrested. Three of the  defendants who appeared in Whakatane District Court face aggravated robbery charges are males aged 14 ,17 and 18. The fourth is a female aged 15. The 17-year-old is from the Whakatane area and the other three are from Opotiki.

A fifth youth alleged to have been involved in the early Boxing Day incident is yet to be located.

Meanwhile, police say they have been overwhelmed with calls from the public offering donations and accommodations for the couple.

Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne said the town had been rocked by the news of the attack. Deputy Mayor Judy Turner said local people can't believe such an attack could happen  in Whakatane. 

Many overseas visitors see New Zealand as a safe travel destination, but violent attacks on tourists in recent years paint a chilling picture.

Police confirmed they had recovered items believed to have been weapons used in the assault. For investigative reasons police were not prepared to confirm what these items were.

The couple had managed to escape from their assailants and sought assistance at a nearby property after the attack, while another person heard their screams and contacted police.

The four assailants had been in the process of ransacking the tent when police arrived and quickly fled before two of the assailants were tracked down by a police dog and handler.

Two further arrests were made a short time later, but police said they were still seeking another man in connection with the attack.

Below is just a sampling of the incidents that have occurred to foreign visitors of late:

April 2013: Three English tourists sleeping in their car in Paihia robbed at knifepoint. A Canadian tourist also assaulted and robbed. November 2012: 

July 2013: Two tourists assaulted and robbed while in a hot pool near Rotorua;

October 2013: French couple sleeping in a Napier car park attacked and pistol-whipped;

Two Austrian tourists assaulted with a bottle and robbed in Palmerston North.

August 2012: Female tourist indecently assaulted near Taupo backpackers' hostel.

July 2012: Two French tourists assaulted and robbed hitch-hiking from Mt Maunganui to Rotorua.

May 2012: Czech woman raped and murdered while hitch-hiking to Timaru.

May 2012: Two tourists stabbed by a Taupo teenager.

December 2011: A 5-year-old Belgian girl staying in a Turangi campground with parents assaulted and raped by a local teenager.

December 2010: A German tourist knocked unconscious and robbed in Queenstown.

June 2010: A Czech tourist stabbed in Motueka backpackers.

May 2010: Three French tourists staying in a campervan in Northland attacked and robbed.