Man 'taking photos' at abducted boy's school

A neighbour says she is distraught that she didn't report a "suss looking" man taking photographs outside a Timaru primary school just hours before a 9-year old pupil was abducted.

The child was found bloodied and distressed by a member of the public 15km away from his home last Thursday afternoon.

He's been too traumatised by the incident for police to speak to him and work out just what happened when he left Oceanview Heights school at 3pm.

Police were yesterday hoping to interview the boy while he recovered in hospital.

A woman who lives across the road from the school said she was upset she did not report an unknown man she saw taking photographs with a small digital camera outside the school around 12.30pm the same day.

"He was taking photographs of the kids. It was lunchtime and they were all outside in the playground," said Catherine Sadler, 52, who on the street police think the boy might've have been snatched from.

She said she watched the man from behind her lounge curtains.

For around 30 minutes, he was walked in front of the school, taking pictures from three different angles, she said.

"I thought it was suspicious and I know I should've called the cops ... but I didn't," Mrs Sadler said.

"He looked suss and kept looking at our house to see if we were watching.

"I didn't dare go outside and approach him alone ... he had a look about him ...".

When her husband Brian came home shortly after the man disappeared on foot, she told him about the incident.

They decided not to phone the police, assuming the man had children at the school.

But on Sunday when a friend told them about the alleged abduction of "a wee boy", Mrs Sadler was "devastated".

"I'm kicking myself for not telling the cops last week. I feel awful."

Mrs Sadler described the mysterious man as being aged 50 - 60.

The born and bred Timaru local said she hadn't seen him hanging around before, nor had she seen him since.

However, she said she would recognise him again.

Mrs Sadler told APNZ that police had not yet called at her house, despite being directly opposite the school.

"I'd like to tell them what I saw," she said.

"It might not be relevant but in light of what has happened, they should definitely know."

Mid-South Canterbury area commander Inspector Dave Gaskin said yesterday the entire neighbourhood had already been canvassed, although he admitted he didn't know exactly what police discovered.

"Everyone in that area will have been spoken to," he said.

Officers interviewed teachers and family members over the weekend to try and get an idea of the boy's movements and work out what happened to him.

The boy, described as having a dark complexion, of slim build, about 30kg with dark hair, was last seen at 3.15pm on the corner of Luxmoore Rd and Selwyn St. He normally walks home, police say.

On Thursday he was wearing dark blue polarfleece, dark blue shorts, a teal polo shirt and multicoloured backpack.

He was found at Holme Station Bridge - a 15 minute drive through winding country roads - around 45 minutes later.

Police would not disclose the extent of the boy's injuries, or say whether a sexual element was involved.

He was recovering at Timaru Hospital yesterday (Monday).

Oceanview Heights school has taken extra safety precautions to make sure their kids get home safely.

Extra teachers were posted at the gates for heightened security yesterday and were talking to anxious parents.

A notice would be issued to all parents today, said principal Jenny Langley.

"We're very concerned for our boy and we hope he's back at school soon," she said.

Donna Wickenden, 39, has two daughters at the school, and made sure she walked her kids home yesterday.

"Like everybody else I want to find out more about what has happened, but until then I'll worry."


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