Second suspect slips past Queenstown police

Another alleged offender has left the country after his former girlfriend sought to lay charges against him with the Queenstown police last month.

Irishwoman Jillian Fitzgerald (24) laid a complaint with police on January 30 about two separate incidents involving an alleged assault on her by her French boyfriend. The complaint came almost two weeks after the first incident, on January 18. The second incident was on January 27.

Senior Sergeant John Fookes, of Queenstown, said while the woman was reportedly upset the man had left without being taken in for questioning, police had taken the appropriate action to catch up with the man.

On January 30, police attempts to contact the man failed and on February 1 a detective checked CCTV footage in a bid to identify him.

The private and public CCTV footage did not show the incident and when police put a border alert on the man at Queenstown Airport, they discovered he had already left.

''At no stage was it indicated that the offender was at risk of leaving the country.''

The Frenchman's departure was within a week of Uruguayan Martin Avenatti-Cuna (27) leaving for Santiago, Chile, before his court appearance in the Queenstown District Court on assault charges.

Avenatti-Cuna had pleaded guilty. However, police had not confiscated his passport and he was able to leave the country without penalty, leaving the victim furious.

Snr Sgt Fookes said the two incidents had completely different circumstances. The second incident was an allegation and police did everything to track the man down, not knowing he was a flight risk.

Police were under the impression the Frenchman was unaware he was being investigated, Snr Sgt Fookes said. Police in charge had taken all appropriate steps in the time they were given.

''We were dealing with allegations that were two weeks after the first event.''

For this reason, it was important all assault victims contacted police as soon as possible, he said.

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