Indecent assault charge laid

A 20-year-old Invercargill man charged with the sexual assault of an 8-year-old girl in the sand dunes of Invercargill's Oreti Beach on Saturday afternoon may face further charges, an Invercargill police officer says.

The unemployed man appeared in the Invercargill District Court yesterday facing one charge of indecent assault. He was granted name suppression until his next appearance, on February 12, and was remanded in custody.

Inquiries were continuing and it was possible further charges would be laid, Acting Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Bouman said yesterday.

The girl was attacked about 4pm, 50m south of the main entrance to the beach, near where many people were enjoying a sunny afternoon.

A call for assistance from members of the public who had been on the beach and children playing in the sand dunes about 4pm had netted ''a couple'' of telephone calls yesterday, he said. Snr Sgt Bouman would not comment on what led police to arrest and charge the man.

However, he said talk around Invercargill the man had been caught with the girl and beaten up on the beach by one or more people was untrue.

The incident was ''an unusual one'', for Invercargill, he said.

''It is many, many years since anything like this has happened [there]. An early arrest is a good result.

''Hopefully, it will alleviate the concerns of the public using the beach.''

Police were still keen to talk to people at the beach on Saturday. He asked anyone with information to call Invercargill police on (03) 211-0400 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555-111.