Community Leaders Appeal for Calm After Race Hate Revenge Fears Following Gang-Rape of 14-Year-Old Girl in Doonside

Taylor Auerbach and Ashlee Mullany, Daily Telegraph, February 11, 2014

Community leaders have warned of possible reprisal attacks by Blacktown’s Pacific Islander community targeting young African-Australian men in the wake of the gang-rape attack on a 14-year-old Islander girl.

Despite the warning from two of the community’s church and sporting leaders, police said they were “monitoring” the situation between the groups and didn’t expect the violence that had previously plagued relations between the two communities to flare.

Blacktown Uniting Church Reverend Liva Tukutama said it was vital he and other Pacific Islander leaders reached out to African leaders to stop the young men of their communities seeking vengeance.

Meanwhile the victim’s mother says her daughter has been “broken into pieces” after what police described as a “horrendous” sexual assault by up to six men.

With tears welling in her eyes, the mother of the girl said she was heartbroken, furious and wanted to kill the attackers who had left her daughter traumatised beyond words.

The devastated mother’s comments came the same day a CCTV image of a man at a nearby bottleshop provided to The Daily Telegraph was passed on to police as part of the extensive investigation into the incident which has shocked the city.

“I’m feeling angry and disgusted at what’s happened to my daughter and I want to catch those mongrels and kill them,” the girl’s mother said.

“My daughter is broken into pieces. To herself, she feels ugly. Since this happened she is always putting her head down . . . . It’s disgusting what they did to her.

“She is a beautiful, nice girl–beautiful, beautiful.”

She said the 14-year-old was too traumatised to tell her or her sisters about what had occurred and was devastated that online bullies had already targeted her daughter for simply being in the park where the sexual assault took place at night.

She was reportedly “hanging out” with two friends in Bill Colbourne Reserve, Doonside around 11pm on Saturday night when the trio noticed “five or six” African-Australian men drinking alcohol.

The Daily Telegraph has obtained CCTV footage of a man buying a bottle of alcohol from the Doonside Cellars about 9pm on the night, who was yesterday identified by one of the victim’s friends as a member of the group in the park. Police are reviewing the CCTV image from the bottle shop and other businesses as they hunt down the rapists.

Bottle shop staff have confirmed that the timestamp vision is 90 minutes slow since the CCTV’s timer is not calibrated to the correct time.

A receipt corresponding to the filmed purchase show indicate the sale was made at 8.58pm.

At 11pm that night the teenage girl became the victim of a prolonged gang rape described by Superintendent Gary Merryweather as “horrendous” and “unprovoked”.

It is understood the girl—who was being consoled by friends at school yesterday—was walking home when one of the men “touched her inappropriately”.

That man and the remainder of the group then allegedly “overpowered” the teenager in the park before raping her in an ordeal that last 30 minutes, Supt Merryweather said.

After the rape, the victim raced to the nearby home of her friend whose family members described her as “almost inconsolable” and “practically hysterical”.

The victim’s friend, who cannot be identified, told The Daily Telegraph he had seen a group matching a description of the alleged offenders drinking from a liquor bottle shortly before his friend was raped.

“We were just hanging around,” he said. “I had to leave the park . . . (The victim) is stressed today.”

The girl’s friend said the men were known drug dealers and that that the third friend in the group had intended to make a purchase.

The friend’s mother is understood to have called police and the young victim was taken by ambulance from the home a few hours later.

“Being of such a tender age she is traumatised to an extent that I can’t even describe at this stage,” Supt Merryweather said.

Community leaders have warned of possible reprisal attacks by Blacktown’s Pacific Islander community targeting young African-Australian men given the Islander heritage of the 14-year-old victim of Doonside’s gang rape.

Despite the warning from two of the community’s church and sporting leaders, police said they were “monitoring” the situation between the groups and didn’t expect the violence that had previously plagued relations between the two communities to flare.

Blacktown Uniting Church Reverend Liva Tukutama said it was vital he and other Pacific Islander leaders reached out to African leaders to stop the young men of their communities seeking vengeance.

He said he could not dismiss “the possibility of negative repercussions” in the community. “It would be like adding fuel to already tense relations between the young Islanders and the Africans,’’ he said.

Mr Tukutama said in times of crisis the church was the first port of call for Pacific Islander families and he was doing everything he could to reach out to the girl’s family to offer support.

Thursday night in Blacktown was “fight night” with as many as 2000 youths congregating in the CBD, former Blacktown police commander Mark Wright said in 2012, and many gangs were divided along African and Pacific Islander lines.

Mr Wright started Com4Unity in 2009, which aimed at bringing Islander and African youth together and engages young people though employment and dance workshops.

It has been credited with greatly reducing anti-social behaviour and violence in Blacktown’s CBD.

The Islander youth are attracted to the dance workshops but the most successful engagement programs for second generation African-Australians was through sport.

Abraham Ajok, president of the Western Sydney Multicultural Football Program, which has more than 400 mostly African players in 12 teams, said the alleged gang rape could see tensions rise.

“If that girl has been assaulted by Africans it could be a problem,” he said.

Doonside locals said they were so used to hearing screams from the littered, dimly lit park where Saturday night’s shocking gang rape took place, they wouldn’t know if an attack was actually taking place.

Resident Elaine Peteolo gave the shocking assessment of Bill Colbourne Park, where graffiti adorns run-down pathways amid smashed beer bottles and drug paraphernalia.

“It’s shocking, we’re so used to hearing screams from the park you wouldn’t know it was an attack,” Mrs Peteolo said.

There’s always people in there screaming in the middle of the night, we’re so used to hearing screams from the park . . . I thought gosh, maybe we moved to the wrong area.”

Many of her neighbours said the park was “notorious” for violence.

One of the nearby residents interviewed claimed she heard screams coming from the park on the night while another resident expressed anger at the news of the attack.

“It’s f***ing putrid, they should be shot,” he said of the alleged offenders.

The park is in the middle of western Sydney suburbia but dense with tall trees.

There are no lights in the middle of the park, leaving the tacky benches and run-down playground in darkness at night, an issue pointed out by Alan Jacklin, former head of a now-defunct park committee.

“You would not see a thing,” Mr Jacklin said.

“I don’t think the lighting in that park is particularly good,” agreed Blacktown police superintendent Gary Merryweather, who is investigating the shocking crime.

Just metres away from where the rape allegedly took place, a crude anarchy symbol has been spray-painted on to a concrete path that runs through overgrown grass carpeted by random pieces of old clothing.

The park shares a fence with a child care centre.

In the mornings and afternoons it is used by schoolchildren walking to bus stops.

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