26 Nov 2019

Woman describes 'pure terror' in North Shore attack

From Checkpoint, 5:09 pm on 26 November 2019

A jogger repeatedly hit in the head by a serial attacker preying on lone women says she felt "pure terror" as the man punched her.

The woman was out for a late afternoon run on a walkway on Auckland's North Shore on November 8 when the man jumped her from behind and threw her to the ground.

So far police believe four similar attacks are linked: three were on or near the Murrays Bay track and a fourth at a park in Massey.

All have been in daylight hours, with the women walking or jogging on their own.

The women have suffered serious injuries including a broken collar bone, broken nose, dislocated shoulder and concussion.

"I just finished work, came home and went away on my walk, it was a nice sunny day so you know there's lots of people out, didn't think anything of it," one survivor told Checkpoint's Lisa Owen.

"I was approaching the walkway, at the bottom of the stairs, we walked past each other, shoulder to shoulder and looked each other in the eye and he didn't smile, but some people don't, so I just thought nothing of it and ran up the stairs and carried on."

"I remember that he was wearing a hat… And he looked nice and clean and tidy - I would never have thought anything of him, he didn't look scary at all, just like a normal guy.

"He didn't look like he was out for a walk, I imagined he going to meet some friends down at one of the pubs and Browns Bay."

After getting to the top of the stairs, the woman says she was walking along the flat part of the path, wearing her headphones, with no idea what was behind her.

"And the next thing I knew, I think he'd thrown me on the ground and then I was just in a ball on the ground and he punched me in the head I think four times and then he just ran away."

She said she does not know how he threw her down as it all happened so quickly.

"All I can remember is that I was walking and the next thing I knew I was in a ball on the ground being punched.

"I must have taken the full force to my shoulder, because that's what injured now, and my head is a bit injured from the punches.

"I knew I had to like protect myself, so I had both my arms over my head, which was why I think he couldn't get to my face.

"He just kept punching me in the side of the head, and I was just thinking is he going to stop? It was like pure terror.

"Then I was just so grateful when he ran away, I just knew it was over."

She does not think the attacker spoke at all.

"Luckily it was so quick, I didn't have a lot of time to think. But I think I was yelling 'sorry', or 'stop', because I thought he was so angry that obviously I'd done something that annoyed him.

"But it was more just like I just wanted him to stop so it was just relief, the second that he did.

"I got to my feet and got my phone out of my armband, rang my partner and said, 'I need help quick', then I stood there and yelled 'help' for a bit but realised no-one would hear me in the walkway, so I managed to walk to the road where I found the girl that helped me call an ambulance."

Her injuries include a dislocated shoulder, vertigo from being hit in the head, and cuts and bruises.

"I think I'm doing really well considering... I'm feeling a lot more comfortable being alone again. At first I was a lot more worried but I think I'm doing as best as I can."

She told Checkpoint she feels safe to go out walking or jogging again on her own, but will not be going down any walkways.

She said the police have been very helpful. "I've meet so many different police already, all coming to do different things, they have been amazing just keeping me informed and they've still got like a whole team working on it.

She said she does not know why the man is attacking people. "It's just crazy. You think what is he getting out of it? … It just doesn't make any sense.

"I think he must just having something really wrong going on in his head.

"He's not going to stop. I think there's been four of us now, and he could be getting worse each time… He has to be stopped, so somebody has to call if they know anything.

"People don't deserve this, he's just ruining people's lives and he needs to get help."