| 18.06,18. 06:05 AM |
Newcastle park assault: Little girl's 'heroism' praised as accused refused bail
Newcastle man arrested over alleged kidnapping, sexual assault of 11yo (ABC News)
Police have praised an 11-year-old girl who was allegedly kidnapped and sexually assaulted at a park in Newcastle last week, describing her as a "hero" who has displayed "remarkable strength" and "bravery".
New South Wales police pulled over and arrested a 47-year-old Newcastle man — who they described as a "nomad" — on Saturday, charging him with 11 offences, including kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault.
He appeared in local Newcastle Court on Sunday morning and was refused bail.
The 11-year-old girl was walking through the park on Tuesday morning, where she was allegedly approached and threatened by the man, who claimed he was armed with a knife.
She was then allegedly taken at knifepoint and held for five hours.
The girl was allegedly sexually assaulted before being forced into a red car and driven to bushland where she was further sexually assaulted.
About 2:00pm, police allege the girl was released at a local train station. She then returned home and police were notified of the incident.
Community helped in tracking down accused
Speaking on Sunday morning, child abuse and sex crimes squad commander Detective Superintendent John Kerlatec said it had been a "very tough week" for the community of Newcastle.
He praised the locals for their help in tracking down the man.
"Every bit of information helped," he said.
"There was an overwhelming amount of information which assisted us in the arrest. (There was) CCTV cameras, crime stopper reports.
"Our investigators scoured through all of that information to identify that person and make the arrest at lunchtime yesterday.
"This brave little girl is certainly a hero, and the courage that she has displayed is heroism.
"It is remarkable, the strength of this girl, supported by her friends and family, supported by counsellors, but she has stood up. She's worked with us, her family and friends have worked with us and she'll get on with her life."
Newcastle Police Superintendent Brett Greentree described the alleged offences as "horrific".
"This incident sent shivers down the spine of every Novacastrian and affected not only the police, but the community right across the Hunter region," he said.
"These allegations are horrific — and they are offences not only against this brave little girl, but also the whole community."