Porirua residents fight off man attempting to abduct 3-year-old girl
by BRAD FLAHIVE
March 14, 2017
A father has told how he fought with a man who tried to abduct his 3-year-old daughter, before neighbours joined in to subdue the attacker.
The father was walking home with the girl in Exploration Way, in the Porirua suburb of Whitby, when a "suspicious-looking" man started to follow them, "breathing heavily and muttering swear words".
"I told him to back off, when all of sudden he lunged at me," the father said.
"I scooped up my daughter and ran into the road and started waving and yelling for a car to stop.
"He chased me and grabbed hold of me while I had my daughter in my arms.
"I yelled for help, and at him to leave us alone. All I could think of was trying to protect my daughter.
"I pushed her away from me and told her to run away. Of course she's only 3, so she tried to run back towards me."
Neighbour Jo Alderdice heard the swearing and yelling, about 3pm on Monday, and came to intervene.
"I instantly knew one of them was trying to snatch her, so my first thought was just to get the girl," she said.
"As I ran towards them, I thought I would just slam myself into them to get her free, but when I got to them the girl had dropped to the ground.
"I grabbed her and ran into my house and locked the doors, screaming for someone to call the police.
"Once I was inside, the man started trying to break my front door down."
The father said that, when they first saw the man, "he was shuffling and swaying a little bit, and not engaging".
"He was following about a foot behind us. I could hear him breathing heavily and muttering swear words.
"I stopped to see if he would walk past but he didn't, so my first thought was to get on to the street away from him and in a public view."
He suspected the man might be a resident of a nearby home for people with mental health problems.
"I hoped once we walked past [the house] he would just go inside, but as we got to the house he beckoned my daughter to come inside."
After Alderdice's interventions, the father and another neighbour continued to wrestle with the man, who pushed a neighbour through the fence to get to Alderdice's door.
"He was determined to get in the house, and if we weren't there we would have forced his way in, I'm sure of it," the father said.
"We managed to hold him down while he spouted off random stuff about the KKK and the devil, crazy babble."
Police have confirmed a 32-year-old man has been arrested for abduction and assault. A court date has yet to be set.
Mental health services provider Pathways Health said on Monday night that the man in custody had been placed in its care "by the clinical team at Capital & Coast DHB, and was in the process of being admitted when the incident occurred".
"We are deeply shocked and distressed by this incident," chief executive Sally Pitts-Brown said. "Our main focus at this point is on supporting the wellbeing of all of the people involved, in any way we can.
"Our Pathways service is not a secure environment. We provide supported home-like environments where people can have a short break when they need to rest and focus completely on their wellbeing.
"We are working with the police as they carry out their investigations. We are also supporting our staff and people who use our services that have been affected by this situation."
The father said: "My daughter is doing all right. She is only 3, so doesn't fully understand what's happened.
"I've been shaking for a good few hours, but I am so grateful to our neighbours. They were just amazing, and instinctively protective.
"If they hadn't been there, it would have been a different story."
Police said the man was in mental health care on Tuesday morning but charges would be coming.