10 Apr 2009

List of suspects after attack at retirement home

10:50 pm on 10 April 2009

Police investigating the vicious assault of an elderly man at South Auckland retirement village are working through a list of suspects after help from the public.

Louis Watts, 85, was knocked unconscious when he confronted an intruder inside his unit at the Seventh Day Adventist Retirement Village in Wiri about 7.45pm on Wednesday.

Mr Watts came to about an hour after the attack and rang police.

He is recovering in Auckland Hospital after suffering serious facial injuries.

Detective Senior Sergeant Karyn Malthus says Mr Watts' condition has improved, but he is still in pain and finds it incredibly difficult to talk.

Ms Malthus says police are working through a list of dozens of suspects after tipoffs from the public and from speaking to Mr Watts.

Police still want to hear from anyone who may have information about the attacker, described as a portly, middle-aged Maori or Polynesian man.

A scene examination was completed on Friday and forensic experts are working throughout the weekend analysing evidence. A number of items were taken from Mr Watts' home.

Attacker 'cowardly animal'

Mr Watts' son-in-law, Keith Oddy, says the home invasion is shocking and whoever is responsible for the attack is a "cowardly animal".

Mr Oddy says Mr Watts is lucky to have survived and believes the respect for elderly has been lost in New Zealand.

However, he says Mr Watts is "a battler" and will come through his ordeal.

Mr Oddy says he moved from Australia to raise his children because he thought New Zealand was a safe country, but this is not longer the case.

Security 'paramount'

The Seventh Day Adventist Retirement Village includes the Bethesda Home and Hospital complex.

Bethesda Village chief executive Jon Marshall says residents and management are deeply shocked and concerned about the attack.

Mr Marshall says the safety and security of residents is paramount. He says the village is taking the situation very seriously and will continue to work closely with police to find whoever attacked Mr Watts.