16 Jan 2018

Disabled man assaulted, waits six days for cops

8:45 am on 16 January 2018

A disabled man who says he was assaulted in his own home waited six days to be formally interviewed by police - and even then he had to make the hour-long drive to the nearest station.

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Christopher Cook, who lives in an isolated area of the Coromandel, lost the use of his right hand after complications from heart surgery.

On the day after storms hit the area, he took his dog Havana for a walk along the beach. Havana, who's normally obedient, ran off to play with some other dogs.

Mr Cook said he called Havana back and raised his stick at the dog before taking him home and tying him up on the deck as punishment.

A short time later there was a knock at the door. He opened it and was shoved to the ground.

"I didn't even have a chance to step back or do anything. I was just thrown backwards - like running into a train or something."

Mr Cook said he fell on to his back.

"And then he comes stepping in and gave me a whack on the ribs - either with a boot or a knee - I'm not too [sure] on that one. And I'm freaking out and then he's over me with his fists drawn and he's going to smack me and I'm yelling at him and he says: 'This is for hitting your dog'. And I said: 'Look, I didn't hit my dog'."

Mr Cook said he soiled himself and the man got off him.

"I finally managed to get up and he doesn't come at me but he's just carrying on and threatening and saying people think I'm some sort of loony or something like this and he's just carrying on and I'm asking him to get out and he wouldn't get out."

Mr Cook said the man eventually left after he threw faeces at him.

Coromandel Police Station.

Coromandel Police Station. Photo: Google

He called police, who asked him to make the hour-long drive to the police station, but Mr Cook said at the time he did not feel up to it. The officer said he would come out the following day.

Two days later there had been no contact from the police.

"And I waited another couple of days and I just sat up like an owl - I couldn't go to sleep - only, I think because the invasion ... coming into the house I'd never had that before and it kind of put me right off. So, I was in a bit of a state as far as wondering what the hell was going to happen."

RNZ contacted police on Thursday to ask why it had taken so long for them to get a formal statement from Mr Cook.

Police declined to be interviewed but in a statement said the officer assigned to the file has been sick. They also said they had to prioritise events, based on the vulnerability of the people involved and the potential for it to escalate.

After RNZ approached police, Mr Cook received a call from an officer and was asked to make the hour-long drive to the Coromandel station the following day to make his statement.

Mr Cook has done that - six days after the incident.

He described the police response as "disappointing".

"I didn't expect them to come down with sirens blazing and all the rest of it but I would've expected a better response than what happened."

He's now thinking of selling up and moving from the area.

chris cahill

Chris Cahill. Photo: supplied

Police Association president Chris Cahill said ideally police would want to get a formal statement from someone in less than six days but rural policing has its difficulties.

"Look, it can be very difficult because priorities can change overnight. This might have been the second, third or fourth priority when the call came in but by the next morning there could be another five or six things that have superseded it."

Asked if this was a resourcing issue, Mr Cahill said there were pressure points across the country.

"As with most places, some extra police are needed and resources are stretched. We'd certainly be keen to see those come on tap as soon as possible."

He said it was difficult to comment on individual cases but he suspects police could have done better.