Girl lands punch, flees suburban assault
A teenage girl punched a man in the face as she tried to fight him off during an assault on a footbridge in Melbourne’s south-east.
The girl, 16, was using the footbridge to cross the Nepean Highway in Gardenvale, from St James Parade, about 3.30pm on Monday, November 26.
The girl was leaving a friend’s home to get to the train station to make her way home.
Police have released an image of the suspect. Photo: Supplied
But when she was at the bridge’s end, a man approached her, grabbed her around the waist and tried to drag her into bushes on the side of the bridge.
The girl struggled free, but the man grabbed her again, this time around the shoulder. She then punched him in the face, which allowed her to escape.
She ran off, as did her attacker, who was seen running towards Spink Street.
Detective Sergeant Matt Campbell from the Moorabbin Sexual Offences and Child Abuse InvestigationTeam said the girl’s martial arts training appeared to have helped her escape the man’s clutches.
‘‘She has martial arts training, she was able to fight him off, so it’s good,’’ he said.
Detective Sergeant Campbell said it was unclear whether the attack was an attempted abduction.
‘‘It’s hard to say; at this stage, we don’t know the intentions of the person responsible. We’re treating it seriously and we’re not sure of his intentions at this stage,’’ he said, adding that police believed it to be an isolated incident.
He said the victim was shaken by what happened, but was said to be coping well.
There were no witnesses to the incident ‘‘at this stage’’, he said, and police would examine closed-circuit footage from Gardenvale railway station.
Police have released an image of a man they want to speak with.
He is described as being of Mediterranean appearance, about 183 centimetres tall, unshaven with olive skin and aged between 30 and 35.
At the time, he was wearing a dark-blue hooded jumper with a zip, and dark-coloured pants.
Anyone with information is asked to phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.