Girl, 11, praised as ‘hero’ after ‘horrific’ rape
AN 11-year-old girl who was allegedly abducted in broad daylight from a park and raped in a horrific five-hour ordeal has been praised as a hero.
Detective Superintendent Brett Greentree said the crimes were "horrific" and had sent "shivers down the spines" of the community, as the alleged attacker was remanded in custody on Sunday.
He praised the schoolgirl and her family for helping New South Wales Police during the investigation.
"This brave little girl is certainly a hero and the courage she has displayed, along with her family, in terms of supporting the police has just been fantastic," he told reporters on Sunday. "And it has ultimately led to this arrest."
A 47-year-old man was detained during a vehicle stop in Hamilton just after midday on Saturday after a four-day manhunt and taken to Newcastle Police Station.
NSW Police described him as an unemployed local resident, separated form his wife, with a nomadic lifestyle. He was charged with kidnapping, six counts of aggravated sexual assault, and four counts of aggravated indecent assault.
He cannot be named for legal reasons.
A cartoon sketch of two young children looking down into their underwear was posted on his Facebook page the day before his arrest, according to 9 News.
The Year 6 student told police she was walking to school through Hudson Park in Adamstown Heights when she was allegedly grabbed from behind and threatened by a man with a knife, sexually assaulted, and forced into a red car, just after 9.15am on Tuesday.
According to police, her attacker then drove her to bushland where she was sexually assaulted for several hours before being released at Kotara Railway Station just before 2.15pm - five hours after she was abducted.
Police were called when the girl walked 1.5km home and told her grandmother of the attack.
She was taken to John Hunter Hospital for medical examination and later released.
"The identification of the car was one of the very key aspects of it but also the description provided by the very brave, young victim," Detective Superintendent John Kerlatec told reporters earlier. "I don't know the motive or why someone would perpetrate this crime."
He said the family of the victim felt "some comfort" in knowing the man had been caught.
"It's been a traumatic and very challenging few days. They were worried as everyone else was in the community."
Det Supt Kerlatec, Commander of the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad, said the brazen nature of the crimes had caused concern in the police force and the community.
"Every crime against a child is horrendous … Each (crime) is the most horrific time in their lives … This incident is horrific," he said. "We were concerned because this person committed a crime in broad daylight and until that person was in custody there was a lot of restless nights."
The man is due to appear in Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday.
Earlier in the week, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Jacob, from the sex crimes squad, said the girl was doing "remarkably well" given what she endured.
"I am very thankful we have a very brave young woman who has been able to help us so valuably in our continuing inquiry," he said.
A parent of a friend of the girl told The Daily Telegraph the community would rally around the "quiet polite little girl" and her family.
"I saw her yesterday get into the ambulance … she was just so distraught," she said.
"It's horrible, it's devastating to think a child has been treated like that."
The newspaper reported a spokeswoman for the NSW Education Department did not answer questions about whether the family was notified when the girl didn't show up for school.
The NSW Department of Education provided a letter for schools to give to parents and Kotara South Public School principal Susan Maxworthy said stranger danger talks had taken place in classrooms and assemblies.
A crime scene was established at Hudson Park and forensically examined, according to police.
Detectives from State Crime Command's Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad and Newcastle City Police District have established Strike Force Bradly to investigate the incident.
Earlier in the week, they scoured the area for CCTV, sought dashcam footage and searched through bushland next to Belair Public School for clues to catch the predator.
Police are urging anyone who was in the Adamstown Heights area or anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.