Turangi teenager arrested and charged with assault on five-year-old girl

News from NZ Police
Police investigating the serious assault of a five-year-old tourist in Turangi yesterday arrested a 16-year-old youth, who appeared in court in Taupo this afternoon.

The young girl was attacked on the night of Wednesday, 21 December in a caravan at Club Habitat Holiday Park in Turangi, sustaining significant injuries to her head and body.

A detailed examination of the crime scene was carried out over three days and a team of between 20 and 30 police staff have been working on the investigation since the attack.

As a result of this work Police became interested in a 16-year-old youth from Turangi and negotiated his attendance at Turangi Police Station yesterday afternoon. He was subsequently charged with sexual violation, aggravated wounding and burglary.

He will appear in the Taupo Youth Court at 2pm today.

The family of the little girl have been advised of the arrest. They are overwhelmed and relieved by news that someone has been charged, but their priority remains the health and wellbeing of their daughter. They wish to maintain their anonymity and privacy and intend to continue their holiday in New Zealand. They have also expressed their thanks for the overwhelming support of the Police, Waikato Hospital staff and Victim Support.

The Bay of Plenty Police Field Crime Manager, Detective Inspector Mark Loper said: “I am extremely pleased for the family of this little girl and for the good community of Turangi that we have been able to make an arrest within a week of the incident.

“This case has really touched the hearts of so many people in New Zealand and staff from the Police and ESR have worked with dogged determination to bring about an early resolution. That has included giving up precious family time over Christmas for which I must sincerely thank the staff and their families.

“I also want to extend my thanks to the good people of Turangi who have given us tremendous support, rallying around the family and the Police.”

Accused teenager weeps in court

News from NZ Police – December 27
The investigation into the serious assault on a five-year-old girl at Turangi is progressing well, with the investigation team following some positive lines of enquiry.

The scene examination was completed on Christmas Eve and the caravan and ute were removed from the holiday park to be returned to the owners. A number of items of interest from the crime scene are now undergoing forensic analysis.

Detective Inspector Mark Loper, said: “It is still early days but we have maintained a strong focus over Christmas and are making some good progress. We do have some persons of interest and we remain optimistic that we will resolve this investigation.”

Police will not be commenting any further on the lines of enquiry or the forensic analysis as to do so could jeopardise the investigation.

The little girl is also steadily improving. Police have not interviewed her and there are no immediate plans to do so as her welfare has to take priority.

“Although we are progressing well we still want to hear from anyone who hasn’t contacted us yet and who has information that may assist us,” said DI Loper.

Anyone with information relevant to this investigation is asked to contact Taupo Police Station on 07 378 6060. Alternatively information can be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

News from NZ Police – Christmas Eve
The community of New Zealand are being asked not to donate any more gifts for the five-year-old girl assaulted at Turangi.

Waikato Hospital and Hamilton Police have been inundated with gifts and toys. Staff and the family are incredibly appreciative of the generosity but there is not the capacity to take any more. The family will only be able to take so much back to Europe and the surplus will help put smiles on the faces of a lot of sick children.

The family are reading all of the cards and messages being sent through the news@waikatodhb.health.nz email address and these messages are being a huge support.

Anyone wanting to show their support in another way can still donate to the Trust fund which has been set up with two independent trustees. The money will be used to provide ongoing support to the little girl. The Trust Fund is at Westpac Bank, account number 03-1555-0150947-00 under the name “Operation Turangi”.

Turangi resident Vicki Ham has organised a collection in the town with the buckets placed at approximately 20 businesses.

“I heard on the news what had happened and wondered what I could do to help. I thought this would be a nice way for our community to give something back to the family,” said Vicki. “We’re devastated that something like this could happen in Turangi. We can’t make it right so this is our way of showing that the community of Turangi do care.”

The collection is expected to raise at least $2,500.

The Police investigation is continuing and it is anticipated that the scene examination will be complete by lunchtime today. The ute and caravan will be removed from the scene.

Detective Inspector Mark Loper said: “The investigation remains a priority for us with everything possible being done; the family can be assured that no stone will be left unturned. We are receiving good support and cooperation from the community and have a number of persons of interest but we are still very keen to hear from anyone else who hasn’t yet made contact and has information that might assist us.”

Anyone with information relevant to this investigation is asked to contact Taupo Police Station on 07 378 6060. Alternatively information can be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.