Police near bushland where a 14-year-old was sexually assaulted in broad daylight this week. Picture: Marina NeilA teenager was almost home from school when a man armed with a knife dragged her into the bush and sexually assaulted her ina broad daylight attackat Windale.
The 14-year-old was walking through a reserve after she gotoff the bus at the corner of the Pacific Highway and South Street, onlya few metres from a cluster of homes where hundreds of people live, when she was snatched just after 3.40pm on Wednesday.
Police said yesterdaythe ordeal lasted“a matter of minutes” before theman fled in a silver car and the teenagerraised the alarm with a family friend.
Lake Macquarie police commander Superintendent Danny Sullivan and State Crime Command Sex Crimes Squad commander Superintendent John Kerlatec. Picture: Marina Neil
The brazen assault has drawn detectives from the State Crime Command’sSex Crimes Squad to the Hunterto investigate apublic, daytime attack ona young girlfor the second timein four months–a man has been charged over the firstincident at Adamstown Heights.
“It is shocking –three-thirty, daylight on a clear day when there’s lots of people around. It just demonstrates how brazen this person is,” Sex Crimes Squad commander Superintendent John Kerlatec said.
“It’s important that we identify this perpetrator and get him off the streets. It’s particularly important for the young victim that she can see justice.
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“She’s obviously very traumatised by this incident. I can’t fully describe how it would be,I haven’t walked in her shoes. But I can say she’s exceptionally strong, she’s helping us with our investigation, she’s being supported by her family and her friends.”
The attacker isdescribed as30 to 40 years oldwith aprominent nose and lips,asolid build and waswearing a dark hoodie, dark long pants andgrey joggers.
Police search the reserve at Windale on Thursday: Picture: Marina Neil
Police spent Wednesday night and most of Thursday combing through the scene of the attackandspoke to nearby residents in search of clues.
Nikki James, whose home backs onto the reserve, told theNewcastle Heraldshe was out the frontwith her three kids–all aged under six–at the time of the attack.She said shewas“dumbfounded”.
“We’ve had some crazy crap happen, like cars getting stolen, fights and stuff, but nothing like this,” shesaid.
Her neighbour Cassie Miller said shetold her three daughters,aged 10, 13 and 16, not to go near the reserve.
“They’ve said themselves‘we’re scared now’,” she said.“I’ve warned them not to walk around alone.”
Lake Macquarie police commander Superintendent Danny Sullivan urged anyone with information, including dash cam footage from the South Street area around the time of the assault, to contact police.
“I’ve seen the matter out on social media now and I’ve seen the reaction of our community and I can only agree with the things that are being said about this terrible crime,” he said.
Police searching for clues on Thursday. Picture: Marina Neil
Superintendent Kerlatec said parents should remindchildren not towalk alone, remain in open spaces and make sure an adult knewwhere they were at all times.He said kidsshould trust their instincts if they felt uncomfortable or unsafe.
“Tell a teacher, tell a police officer, go into the nearest shop –do something,” he said.“Until we find this person I do ask that we take extra precautions.”
Information can be given to police anonymously throughCrime Stoppers on1800 333 000.