Schoolboy interviewed after abduction bid

Trained child negotiation officers have spoken to a traumatised 9-year old boy for a second time after he was allegedly abducted outside a Timaru primary school.

A massive police investigation entered its sixth day today as officers try to get critical information out of the boy as he recovers in hospital.

He was found bloodied and distressed by a river about 15km from his Timaru home last Thursday.

Police fear he was snatched outside his Oceanview Heights school on his way home.

Specialist officers spoke with the boy briefly yesterday for the first time, and late this afternoon spent longer trying to build up a relationship with him in the hope he can tell them exactly what happened.

"It takes a long time to build a rapport and trust with the child, and staff had spent a bit of time doing that," said Mid-South Canterbury area commander Inspector Dave Gaskin.

"We're not going to put any pressure on them, they're just going to take their time and it will take as long as it takes."

The police operation continued to hit the streets of Timaru today.

Officers were still knocking neighbourhood doors and stopping cars and quizzing drivers if they had seen the boy last Thursday afternoon.

"There appears to be no sign of the boy between 3.15pm and 4.30pm," Inspector Gaskin said.

Officers also interviewed a potentially crucial witness who claims to have seen a "suss looking" stranger taking photographs of children in the playground just hours before the alleged abduction.

Catherine Sadler, a 52-year old homemaker, who lives on Selwyn St directly opposite the school, watched a pot-bellied man take pictures with a small digital camera from three different angles outside the school fence around 12.30pm.

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

APNZ reported her claims to police yesterday and today they called at her door.

"A statement has been taken and the information that she has given is being assessed," said Inspector Gaskin.

He refused to go into any more depth over what she said.

Police have refused to disclose the extent of the boy's injuries or say whether a sexual element was involved.

While he was "recovering well", it's unclear when he will be discharged from Timaru Hospital.

The boy, described as having a dark complexion, a slim build and 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 a dark blue polar fleece, 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 - about 45 minutes later.

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.

Meanwhile, Christchurch police are still investigating an alleged attempted abduction in Prebbleton, north of Christchurch, a fortnight ago.

They're looking into claims by a primary school boy that he armed himself with a stick and fought off a would-be attacker who grabbed him from behind and attempted to drag him down the street towards a waiting vehicle.

Inspector Gaskin said he was aware of the Prebbleton incident but did not believe there was a link between the two.

As police build their Timaru case, which is still being referred to as a "suspected abduction", Inspector Gaskin remains confident they will solve it.

"We're progressing very well and things are slowly starting to become clearer," he said.

"As I said, the longer we go I would expect we will be able to solve this matter, and nothing I've seen so far has changed my mind on that."


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