Sex worker attacked in cemetery

A badly injured woman sought refuge in the Langham Hotel early yesterday morning after being viciously assaulted in a cemetery across the road.

Detective Senior Sergeant Paul Newman said the 34-year-old victim suffered numerous physical injuries during the attack in the lonely expanse of Symonds St Cemetery about 5.30am.

The woman, a sex worker, met the man in the vicinity of Liverpool St and Karangahape Rd prior to the assault.

Police had so far been unable to speak to her so details of what actually transpired were vague.

But she had managed to make her way in a state of partial undress to the Langham Hotel where staff assisted her and contacted police, Newman said.

"She had obvious facial injuries and she has remained in a fragile state."

The woman, whose injuries were considered moderate, was being treated at Auckland Hospital.

Police yesterday set up a large cordon around what was believed to be the scene, deep into the cemetery near Grafton Bridge.

They lay tarpaulins on top of areas of interest to try and stop ex tropical Cyclone Lusi destroying evidence.

"The weather has had an effect on the scene examination, there's no mystery to that." Newman said. "The weather's been terrible out there but, in saying that, the initial police response was very positive and we have secured a number of items of interest that we will be examining further."

New Zealand Prostitutes Collective Auckland regional coordinator Annah Pickering said the incident was deeply concerning.

"Most street-based sex workers have a spot where they take their clients to to do their work. Sometimes it's outdoors and sometimes it's indoors but going to a really dark, desolate area like a cemetery is not very common and definitely not to be encouraged.

"Most of the time sex workers will stay within a one or two kilometre radius from where they work so if there is an incident they know they can run to the main road or yell out for help so neighbours can hear them."

In 1996, sex worker Natacha Hogan, known as Twiggy, was raped and murdered in Symonds St Cemetery by New Zealand's first serial killer, Hayden Poulter.

Anyone with information about Saturday's attack was urged to contact Auckland police on (09) 302 6557 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

- Matthew Theunissen of the Herald on Sunday

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